Effects of 14 days of head-down tilt bed rest on cutaneous vasoconstrictor responses in humans

Thad E. Wilson, Manabu Shibasaki, Jian Cui, Benjamin D. Levine, Craig G. Crandall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study tested the hypothesis that head-down tilt bed rest (HDBR) reduces adrenergic and nonadrenergic cutaneous vasoconstrictor responsiveness. Additionally, an exercise countermeasure group was included to identify whether exercise during bed rest might counteract any vasoconstrictor deficits that arose during HDBR. Twenty-two subjects underwent 14 days of strict 6° HDBR. Eight of these 22 subjects did not exercise during HDBR, while 14 of these subjects exercised on a supine cycle ergometer for 90 min a day at 75% of pre-bed rest heart rate maximum. To assess a-adrenergic vasoconstrictor responsiveness, intradermal microdialysis was used to locally administer norepinephrine (NE), while forearm skin blood flow (SkBF; laser-Doppler flowmetry) was monitored over microdialysis membranes. Nonlinear regression modeling was used to identify the effective drug concentration that caused 50% of the cutaneous vasoconstrictor response (EC50) and minimum values from the SkBF-NE dose-response curves. In addition, the effects of HDBR on nonadrenergic cutaneous vasoconstriction were assessed via the venoarteriolar response of the forearm and leg. HDBR did not alter EC50 or the magnitude of cutaneous vasoconstriction to exogenous NE administration regardless of whether the subjects exercised during HDBR. Moreover, HDBR did not alter the forearm venoarteriolar response in either the control or exercise groups during HDBR. However, HDBR significantly reduced the magnitude of cutaneous vasoconstriction due to the venoarteriolar response in the leg, and this response was similarly reduced in the exercise group. These data suggest that HDBR does not alter cutaneous vasoconstrictor responses to exogenous NE administration, whereas cutaneous vasoconstriction of the leg due to the venoarteriolar response is reduced after HDBR. It remains unclear whether attenuated venoarteriolar responses in the lower limbs contribute to reduced orthostatic tolerance after bed rest and spaceflight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2113-2118
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of 14 days of head-down tilt bed rest on cutaneous vasoconstrictor responses in humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this