Loughborough University
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Evaluating forearm vascular adaptations to training interventions: an in vivo and in vitro approach

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posted on 2015-05-15, 12:37 authored by Emilia Thompson
Exercise training promotes a beneficial endothelial cell (EC) phenotype and results in conduit vessel adaptation. The specific underlying mechanisms have been proposed (shear stress, circumferential stress, hypoxia, metabolic) but are yet to be fully elucidated. This thesis investigated the predominant stimuli responsible for conduit vessel adaptation with training. Further, it developed a method of in situ EC extraction to allow for determination of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underpinning these adaptations. The methodology utilised two-dimensional (2D) Doppler ultrasound, strain gauge plethysmography, immunocytochemistry and RT-qPCR to provide insight in to vascular characteristics, predominantly of the brachial artery and peripheral EC. Long-term repeated isometric forearm muscle contractions as performed by well-trained rock climbers promoted greater resting, peak (in response to 5 min ischaemia) and maximal (in response to ischaemic exercise) brachial artery diameters compared with controls. This structural response is dependent upon confounders associated with exercise additional to shear stress as evidenced by the lack of brachial artery remodelling in response to 8 weeks of ischaemic preconditioning (IPC). A transient increase in flow-mediated dilation (FMD)% was observed following 6 weeks exposure to IPC, which became significant when controlled for baseline artery diameter, despite an absence of augmentation following long-term (≥ 8 weeks) exposure to a shear stimulus. This is in line with the suggested timeline of conduit vessel adaptation to exercise training of a transient increase in function at 2-4 weeks. Underpinning molecular mechanisms responsible were not determined but may be further investigated given that the endovascular biopsy technique was developed and improved in this thesis. The endovascular biopsy successfully yields approximately 2100 ± 1700 EC per sample, providing sufficient material for determination of expression of both mRNA (RT-qPCR) and protein (immunocytochemistry). Specifically, type 2 diabetics (T2DM) with symptomatic cardiac abnormalities exhibited augmented eNOS mRNA and protein in brachial artery EC as compared with non-diabetic controls with symptomatic cardiac abnormalities. In conclusion, this thesis demonstrates that although shear stress promotes a transient trend for enhancement in function of the peripheral conduit arteries, additional factors are required for long-term structural adaptations. Further, the endovascular biopsy technique offers a novel method of extracting and analysing EC for genes and proteins of interest to vascular health. The use of this technique to decipher the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in vascular adaptations with exercise requires further investigation.





  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Emilia B. Thompson

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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