Local and systemic effects of leg cycling training on arterial wall thickness in healthy humans
ABSTRACT Exercise training is associated with direct effects on conduit artery function and structure. Cross-sectional studies suggest the presence of systemic changes in wall thickness as a result of exercise in healthy subjects, but no previous study has examined this question in humans undertaking exercise training.
To examine the change in superficial femoral (SFA, i.e. local effect) and carotid (CA, i.e. systemic effect) artery wall thickness across 8 weeks of lower limb cycle training in healthy young men.
Fourteen healthy young male subjects were assigned to an 8-week training study of cycling exercise (n = 9) or a control period (n = 5). Before, during (2, 4 and 6 weeks) and after training, SFA and CA wall thickness was examined using automated edge-detection of high resolution ultrasound images. We also measured resting diameter and calculated the wall:lumen(W:L)-ratio.
Exercise training did not alter CA or SFA baseline diameter (P = 0.14), but was associated with gradual, consistent and significant decreases in wall thickness and W:L-ratio in both the CA and SFA (P < 0.001 and 0.002, respectively). Two-way ANOVA revealed a comparable magnitude of decrease in wall thickness and W:L-ratio in both arteries across the 8-week period (interaction-effect; P = 0.29 and 0.12, respectively). No changes in artery diameter, wall thickness or W:L-ratio were apparent in controls (0.82, 0.38 and 0.52, respectively).
We found that cycle exercise training in healthy young individuals is associated with modest, but significant, decreases in wall thickness in the superficial femoral and carotid arteries. These findings suggest that exercise training causes systemic adaptation of the arterial wall in healthy young subjects.
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