Acute psychological and physical stress transiently enhances brachial artery flow-mediated dilation stimulated by exercise-induced increases in shear stress.

Research paper by Ingrid C IC Szijgyarto, Veronica J VJ Poitras, Brendon J BJ Gurd, Kyra E KE Pyke

Indexed on: 13 Jun '14Published on: 13 Jun '14Published in: Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme


Exercise elevates conduit artery shear stress and stimulates flow-mediated dilation (FMD). However, little is known regarding the impact of acute psychological and physical stress on this response. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST (speech and arithmetic tasks)) and a cold pressor test (CPT) with and without social evaluation (SE) on exercise-induced brachial artery FMD (EX-FMD). A total of 59 healthy male subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 conditions: TSST, CPT, or CPT with SE. During 6 min of handgrip exercise, brachial artery EX-FMD was assessed before and 15 and 35 min poststress with echo and Doppler ultrasound. Shear stress was estimated as shear rate, calculated as brachial artery mean blood velocity/brachial artery diameter. Results are means ± SD. All conditions elicited significant physiological stress responses. Salivary cortisol increased from 4.6 ± 2.4 nmol/L to 10.0 ± 5.0 nmol/L (p < 0.001; condition effect: p = 0.292). Mean arterial pressure increased from 98.6 ± 12.1 mm Hg to 131.9 ± 18.7 mm Hg (p < 0.001; condition effect: p = 0.664). Exercise shear rate did not differ between conditions (p = 0.592), although it was modestly lower poststress (prestress: 72.3 ± 4.5 s(-1); 15 min poststress: 70.8 ± 5.4 s(-1); 35 min poststress: 70.6 ± 6.1 s(-1); trial effect: p = 0.011). EX-FMD increased from prestress to 15 min poststress in all conditions (prestress: 6.2% ± 2.8%; 15 min poststress: 7.9% ± 3.2%; 35 min poststress: 6.6% ± 2.9%; trial effect: p < 0.001; condition effect: p = 0.611). In conclusion, all conditions elicited similar stress responses that transiently enhanced EX-FMD. This response may help to support muscle perfusion during stress.