Short-term unilateral leg immobilization alters peripheral but not central arterial structure and function in healthy young humans
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Short-term leg immobilization is an acute model of inactivity, which induces vascular deconditioning. The present study was conducted to determine if short-term leg immobilization induced alterations in central and peripheral conduit artery structure (diameter and compliance), function (resting blood flow and mean wall shear rate), and peripheral flow-mediated dilation. Healthy participants (n = 7 women and n = 8 men) were studied before and after 12 days of unilateral leg immobilization. Carotid artery structure and function were unaltered with immobilization indicating that the unilateral immobilization did not have a detectable effect on this representative central artery. In contrast, peripheral measures of arterial structure at the common femoral and popliteal arteries showed significant reductions in both the immobilized and non-immobilized limbs but to a greater extent in the immobilized limbs. Specifically, femoral and popliteal artery compliance and femoral artery diameter were reduced in both the immobilized and the non-immobilized limb (p < 0.05) while popliteal artery diameter was reduced only in the immobilized leg. Popliteal artery flow-mediated dilation, an indicator of peripheral artery function, was increased in the immobilized limb, which parallels reports in paralyzed limbs of spinal-cord-injured individuals. The time course of vascular alterations with inactivity likely follows a sequence of adaptations in arterial structure and function reflecting differing initial flow patterns, and arterial wall composition, and diverse hemodynamic stimuli within different blood vessels.
KeywordsBlood flow Endothelial function Deconditioning
The main source of funding for the collection of data was from grant support in aid of research from Proctor and Gamble to MAT. We would like to acknowledge a discovery grant from NSERC to M.J MacDonald in aiding in the completion of this research. M. Rakobowchuk and E. Glover were the recipients of Canadian Institutes for Health Research Canada Graduate Scholarships and acknowledge this funding.
Conflicts of interest
The authors do not have any conflict of interests.
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