Cerebrovascular function in the large arteries is maintained following moderate intensity exercise

Jessica J. Steventon*, Alex B. Hansen, Joseph R. Whittaker, Kevin W. Wildfong, Daniela Nowak-Flück, Michael M. Tymko, Kevin Murphy, Phil N. Ainslie

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Exercise has been shown to induce cerebrovascular adaptations. However, the underlying temporal dynamics are poorly understood, and regional variation in the vascular response to exercise has been observed in the large cerebral arteries. Here, we sought to measure the cerebrovascular effects of a single 20-min session of moderate-intensity exercise in the one hour period immediately following exercise cessation. We employed transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography to measure cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFV) in the middle cerebral artery (MCAv) and posterior cerebral artery (PCAv) before, during, and following exercise. Additionally, we simultaneously measured cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the internal carotid artery (ICA) and vertebral artery (VA) before and up to one hour following exercise cessation using Duplex ultrasound. A hypercapnia challenge was used before and after exercise to examine exercise-induced changes in cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR). We found that MCAv and PCAv were significantly elevated during exercise (p = 4.81 × 10-5 and 2.40 × 10-4, respectively). A general linear model revealed that these changes were largely explained by the partial pressure of end-tidal CO2 and not a direct vascular effect of exercise. After exercise cessation, there was no effect of exercise on CBFV or CVR in the intracranial or extracranial arteries (all p > 0.05). Taken together, these data confirm that CBF is rapidly and uniformly regulated following exercise cessation in healthy young males.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1657
    JournalFrontiers in Physiology
    Issue numberNOV
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2018


    • Cerebral blood flow
    • Cerebral plasticity
    • Cerebrovascular reactivity
    • Exercise
    • Haemodynamics
    • PETCO2


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