Exaggerated cardiovascular responses to muscle contraction and tendon stretch in UCD type-2 diabetes mellitus rats

Ann Katrin Grotle, Charles K. Crawford, Yu Huo, Kai M. Ybarbo, Michelle L. Harrison, James Graham, Kimber L. Stanhope, Peter J. Havel, Paul J. Fadel, Audrey J. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have exaggerated sympathetic activity and blood pressure responses to exercise. However, the underlying mechanisms for these responses, as well as how these responses change throughout disease progression, are not completely understood. For this study, we examined the effect of the progression of T2DM on the exercise pressor reflex, a critical neurocardiovascular mechanism that functions to increase sympathetic activity and blood pressure during exercise. We also aimed to examine the effect of T2DM on reflexive cardiovascular responses to static contraction, as well as those responses to tendon stretch when an exaggerated exercise pressor reflex was present. We evoked the exercise pressor reflex and mechanoreflex by statically contracting the hindlimb muscles and stretching the Achilles tendon, respectively, for 30 s. We then compared pressor and cardioaccelerator responses in unanesthetized, decerebrated University of California Davis (UCD)-T2DM rats at 21 and 31 wk following the onset of T2DM to responses in healthy nondiabetic rats. We found that the pressor response to static contraction was greater in the 31-wk T2DM [change in mean arterial pressure (∆MAP) = 39 ± 5 mmHg] but not in the 21-wk T2DM (∆MAP = 24 ± 5 mmHg) rats compared with nondiabetic rats (∆MAP = 18 ± 2 mmHg; P < 0.05). Similarly, the pressor and the cardioaccelerator responses to tendon stretch were significantly greater in the 31-wk T2DM rats [∆MAP = 69 ± 6 mmHg; change in heart rate (∆HR) = 28 ± 4 beats/min] compared with nondiabetic rats (∆MAP = 14 ± 2 mmHg; ∆HR = 5 ± 3 beats/ min; P < 0.05). These findings suggest that the exercise pressor reflex changes as T2DM progresses and that a sensitized mechanoreflex may play a role in exaggerating these cardiovascular responses. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first study to provide evidence that as type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) progresses, the exercise pressor reflex becomes exaggerated, an effect that may be due to a sensitized mechanoreflex. Moreover, these findings provide compelling evidence suggesting that impairments in the reflexive control of circulation contribute to exaggerated blood pressure responses to exercise in T2DM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H479-H486
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Central command
  • Exercise pressor reflex
  • Mesencephalic locomotor region
  • Sympathetic nerve activity
  • Type-2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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