Inhibition of α2-adrenergic vasoconstriction during contraction of glycolytic, not oxidative, rat hindlimb muscle

G. D. Thomas, J. Hansen, R. G. Victor

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145 Scopus citations


Previous studies have produced conflicting evidence as to whether sympathetic vasoconstriction is impaired in active skeletal muscle. Because α2-, not α1-, adrenergic vasoconstriction is attenuated by mild acidosis, we hypothesized that α2-mediated sympathetic vasoconstriction would be attenuated in contracting glycolytic muscle, which produces more acidosis than oxidative muscle. We compared effects of lumbar sympathetic nerve stimulation and α-adrenergic agonists on arterial pressure femoral blood flow, and force output during contractions of oxidative or glycolytic muscles in anesthetized rats. We found that 1) sympathetic vasoconstriction was preserved during contractions of oxidative soleus muscle and during low- intensity contractions of glycolytic gastrocnemius-plantaris muscles but was abolished during maximal contractions of these glycolytic muscles; 2) this sympatholytic effect was caused by impaired α2-, not α1-, vasoconstriction; and 3) the increased muscle blood flow resulting from a combination of impaired vasoconstriction and increased arterial pressure was paralleled by increased force of gastrocnemius-plantaris muscle contraction. Thus contraction-induced impairment of α2-vasoconstriction can augment muscle blood flow and muscle contraction, but the degree of impairment depends on fiber type and intensity of muscle contraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H920-H929
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3 35-3
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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