Functional and structural heterogeneity exists among skeletal muscle vascular beds related, in part, to muscle fiber type composition. This study was designed to delineate whether the vulnerability to vascular dysfunction in insulin resistance is uniformly distributed among skeletal muscle vasculatures and whether physical activity modifies this vulnerability. Obese, hyperphagic Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima fatty rats (20 wk old) were sedentary (OSED) or physically active (OPA; access to running wheels) and compared with age-matched sedentary Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka (LSED) rats. Vascular responses were determined in isolated, pressurized feed arteries from fast-twitch gastrocnemius (GFAs) and slow-twitch soleus (SFAs) muscles. OSED animals were obese, insulin resistant, and hypertriglyceridemic, traits absent in LSED and OPA rats. GFAs from OSED animals exhibited depressed dilation to ACh, but not sodium nitroprusside, and enhanced vasoconstriction to endothelin-1 (ET-1), but not phenylephrine, compared with those in LSED. Immunoblot analysis suggests reduced endothelial nitric oxide synthase phosphorylation at Ser1177 and endothelin subtype A receptor expression in OSED GFAs. Physical activity prevented reduced nitric oxide-dependent dilation to ACh, but not enhanced ET-1 vasoconstriction, in GFA from OPA animals. Conversely, vasoreactivity of SFAs to ACh and ET-1 were principally similar in all groups, whereas dilation to sodium nitroprusside was enhanced in OSED and OPA rats. These data demonstrate, for the first time, that SFAs from insulin-resistant rats exhibit reduced vulnerability to dysfunction versus GFAs and that physical activity largely prevents GFA dysfunction. We conclude that these results demonstrate that vascular dysfunction associated with insulin resistance is heterogeneously distributed across skeletal muscle vasculatures related, in part, to muscle fiber type and activity level
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