Influence of progestin bioactivity on cutaneous vascular responses to passive heating

Belinda L. Houghton, Lacy A. Holowatz, Christopher T. Minson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Purpose: Oral contraceptives influence the regulation of cutaneous vascular tone, and both estrogen and progesterone have been shown to affect nitric oxide (NO)-mediated vasodilation. We tested the hypothesis that cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) during passive heating would be lower in women taking oral contraceptives with higher progestational bioactivity compared with those taking oral contraceptives with lower progestational bioactivity. We further hypothesized that this difference could be attributed to the relative degree of NO-dependent vasodilation. Methods: Fourteen women (20.3 ± 0.3 yr) taking combined oral contraceptives (low progestin: 6 subjects, high progestin: 8 subjects) participated in a whole-body heating protocol and were tested during the end of active and placebo pill phases. Red blood cell (RBC) flux was measured by laser-Doppler flowmetry at a control microdialysis site (Ringer's solution) and an experimental site where NO-synthase (NOS) was inhibited (10 mM L-NAME). CVC was calculated as RBC flux/MAP. Results: Baseline oral temperature (Tor) was significantly higher during the active pill phase for all subjects (active: 36.8 ± 0.1°C; placebo: 36.6 ± 0.1°C) (P = 0.02) but was not affected by progestational bioactivity. CVC at the control site during heating did not differ between low and high progestin users during either phase of oral contraceptive use. However, CVC in the NOS inhibited site was diminished during both phases of oral contraceptive use in the low progestin group at a given change in Tor (active: ΔTor of 0.6-1.0°C, placebo: ΔTor of 0.8-1.0°C) (P < 0.05). (ΔTor 1.0°C: active: 30.86 vs 46.56% CVCmax; placebo: 26.29 vs 49.22%CVCmax) (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Progestational activity in oral contraceptives may alter the mechanisms by which skin blood flow increases during passive heating via NO-dependent cutaneous active vasodilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Influence of progestin bioactivity on cutaneous vascular responses to passive heating'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this