Bone and Joint Institute

Long-duration bed rest modifies sympathetic neural recruitment strategies in male and female participants

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Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985)





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To understand the impact of physical deconditioning with head-down tilt bed rest (HDBR) on the malleability of sympathetic discharge patterns, we studied 1) baseline integrated muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA; microneurography) from 13 female participants in the WISE-2005 60-day HDBR study (retrospective analysis), 2) integrated MSNA and multiunit action potential (AP) analysis in 13 male participants performed on data collected at baseline and during physiological stress imposed by end-inspiratory apnea in a new 60-day HDBR study, and 3) a repeatability study (control; n = 6, retrospective analysis, 4 wk between tests). Neither baseline integrated burst frequency nor incidence were altered with HDBR (both P > 0.35). However, baseline integrated burst latency increased in both HDBR studies (male: 1.35 ± 0.02 to 1.39 ± 0.02 s, P < 0.01; female: 1.23 ± 0.02 to 1.29 ± 0.02 s, P < 0.01), whereas controls exhibited no change across two visits (1.25 ± 0.02 to 1.25 ± 0.02 s, group-by-time interaction, P = 0.02). With the exception of increased AP latency ( P = 0.03), male baseline AP data did not change with HDBR (all P > 0.19). The change in AP frequency on going from baseline to apnea (∆94 ± 25 to ∆317 ± 55 AP/min, P < 0.01) and the number of active sympathetic clusters per burst (∆0 ± 0.2 to ∆1 ± 0.2 clusters/burst, P = 0.02) were greater post- compared with pre-HDBR. The change in total clusters with apnea was ∆0 ± 0.5 clusters pre- and ∆2 ± 0.7 clusters post-HDBR ( P = 0.07). These data indicate that 60-day HDBR modified discharge characteristics in baseline burst latency and sympathetic neural recruitment during apneic stress. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Long-duration bed rest did not modify baseline sympathetic burst frequency in male and female participants, but examination of additional features of the multiunit signal provided novel evidence to suggest augmented synaptic delays or processing times at baseline for all sympathetic action potentials. Furthermore, long-duration bed rest increased reflex-sympathetic arousal to apneic stress in male participants primarily by mechanisms involving an augmented firing rate of action potential clusters active at baseline.


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