Sympathetically-induced vasoconstrictor modulation of local vasodilation occurs in contracting skeletal muscle during exercise to ensure appropriate perfusion of a large active muscle mass and to also maintain arterial blood pressure. In this synthesis, we discuss the contribution of group III-IV muscle afferents to the sympathetic modulation of blood flow distribution to locomotor and respiratory muscles during exercise. This is followed by an examination of the conditions under which diaphragm and locomotor muscle fatigue occur. Emphasis is given to those studies in humans and animal models that experimentally changed respiratory muscle work to evaluate blood flow redistribution and its effects on locomotor muscle fatigue; and conversely, those that evaluated the influence of coincident limb muscle contraction on respiratory muscle blood flow and fatigue. We propose the concept of a "two-way street of sympathetic vasoconstrictor activity" emanating from both limb and respiratory muscle metaboreceptors during exercise, which constrains blood flow and O2 transport thereby promoting fatigue of both sets of muscles. We end with considerations of a hierarchy of blood flow distribution during exercise between respiratory vs. locomotor musculatures and the clinical implications of muscle afferent feedback influences on muscle perfusion, fatigue and exercise tolerance.
Journal of Applied Physiology – The American Physiological Society
Published: Feb 26, 2018
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