Sedentary aging results in a diminished rapid cutaneous vasodilator response to local heating. We investigated whether this diminished response was due to altered contributions of noradrenergic sympathetic nerves; assessing 1) the age-related decline and, 2) the effect of aerobic fitness. We measured skin blood flow (SkBF)(laser-Doppler flowmetry) in young (24±1 yr) and older (64±1 yr) endurance-trained and sedentary men (n=7 per group) at baseline and during 35 min of local skin heating to 42 °C at three forearm sites: 1) untreated; 2) bretylium tosylate (BT), preventing neurotransmitter release from noradrenergic sympathetic nerves; and 3) yohimbine and propranolol (YP), antagonising α- and β-adrenergic receptors. SkBF was converted to cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) (SkBF/mean arterial pressure) and normalized to maximal CVC (%CVCmax) achieved by skin heating to 44 °C. Pharmacological agents were administered using microdialysis. In the young trained, the rapid vasodilator response was reduced at the BT and YP sites (P<0.05); by contrast, in the young sedentary and older trained, YP had no effect (P>0.05) but treatment with BT did (P>0.05). Neither BT nor YP treatments affected the rapid vasodilator response in the older sedentary group (P>0.05). These data suggest that the age-related reduction in the rapid vasodilator response is due to an impairment of sympathetic-dependent mechanisms, which can be partly attenuated with habitual aerobic exercise. Rapid vasodilation involves noradrenergic neurotransmitters in young trained men, and non-adrenergic sympathetic cotransmitters (e.g.,\ud neuropeptide Y) in young sedentary and older trained men, possibly as a compensatory mechanism. Finally, in older sedentary men, the rapid vasodilation appears not to involve the sympathetic system
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