Central and Peripheral Contributors to Skeletal Muscle Hyperemia: Response to Passive Limb Movement

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Cardiovascular control, exercise


The central and peripheral contributions to exercise-induced hyperemia are not well understood. Thus, utilizing a reductionist approach, we determined the sequential peripheral and central responses to passive exercise in nine healthy men (33 +/- 9 yr). Cardiac output, heart rate, stroke volume, mean arterial pressure, and femoral blood flow of the passively moved leg and stationary (control) leg were evaluated second by second during 3 min of passive knee extension with and without a thigh cuff that occluded leg blood flow. Without the thigh cuff, significant transient increases in cardiac output (1.0 +/- 0.6 l/min, Delta15%), heart rate (7 +/- 4 beats/min, Delta12%), stroke volume (7 +/- 5 ml, Delta7%), passive leg blood flow (411 +/- 146 ml/min, Delta151%), and control leg blood flow (125 +/- 68 ml/min, Delta43%) and a transient decrease in mean arterial pressure (3 +/- 3 mmHg, 4%) occurred shortly after the onset of limb movement. Although the rise and fall rates of these variables differed, they all returned to baseline values within 45 s; therefore, continued limb movement beyond 45 s does not maintain an increase in cardiac output or net blood flow. Similar changes in the central variables occurred when blood flow to the passively moving leg was occluded. These data confirm the role of peripheral factors and reveal an essential supportive role of cardiac output in the hyperemia at the onset of passive limb movement. This cardiac output response provides an important potential link between the physiology of active and passive exercise.

Published In

Journal of Applied Physiology