The impact of blood flow restricted exercise on the peripheral vasculature

2014-05-15T11:34:05Z (GMT) by Julie Hunt
Distortion to hemodynamic, ischemic and metabolic stimuli during low load resistance exercise with blood flow restriction (BFR) may influence regional vascular adaptation. This thesis investigated the acute response and chronic adaptations of the peripheral vasculature to low load resistance exercise with BFR. The methodology utilised Doppler ultrasound, strain gauge plethysmography and muscle biopsy for insightful measures of the vasculature at different regions of the arterial tree. Short term (4-6 weeks) localised low load (30-40% 1RM) resistance exercise with BFR increased brachial (3.1%) and popliteal (3.3%) artery maximal diameter (in response to ischemic exercise), forearm (29%) and calf (24%) post-occlusive blood flow, and calf filtration capacity (14%). These findings indicate potential vascular remodelling at the conduit (chapters 3, 4) resistance (chapter 4) and capillary (chapter 4) level of the vascular tree. Regional, rather than systemic, factors are responsible for these adaptations as evidenced by an absent response in the contralateral control limb. Transient improvements in popliteal artery FMD% occurred at week 2 before increased maximal diameter at week 6, suggesting functional changes precede structural remodelling (chapter 4). Maximal brachial artery diameter and forearm post-occlusive blood flow returned to baseline values after a 2 week detraining period, signifying rapid structural normalisation after stimulus removal (chapter 3). Enhanced capillarity, despite low training loads, could be explained by augmentation of VEGF (~7 fold), PGC-1α (~6 fold) and eNOS (~5 fold) mRNA, and upregulation VEGFR-2 (~5 fold) and HIF-1α (~2.5 fold) mRNA with BFR (chapter 5). This indicates a targeted angiogenic response potentially mediated through enhanced metabolic, ischemic and shear stress stimuli. Large between subject variability in the level of BFR was observed during upper and lower limb cuff inflation protocols. Adipose tissue thickness and mean arterial pressure were the largest independent determinants of upper and lower limb BFR, respectively (Chapter 6). In conclusion, this thesis demonstrates that low load resistance exercise with BFR induces adaptation in the conduit, resistance and capillary vessels. The mediators of this response are likely to be the hemodynamic and chemical signals elicited by repeated bouts of BFR resistance exercise, although confirmation of these mechanisms is required. The functional significance of these adaptations is unknown and warrants further investigation.