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Cutaneous vasomotor responses in boys and men

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Few studies have investigated skin blood flow in children and age-related differences in the underlying mechanisms. We examined mechanisms of skin blood flow responses to local heating, postocclusive reactive hyperaemia (PORH), and isometric handgrip exercise in adult and prepubescent males, hypothesizing that skin blood flow responses would be greater in children compared with adults. We measured skin blood flow in 12 boys (age, 9 ± 1 years) and 12 men (age, 21 ± 1 years) using laser-Doppler flowmetry at rest, in response to 3-min PORH, 2-min isometric handgrip exercise, and local skin heating to 39 °C (submaximal) and 44 °C (maximal). Using wavelet analysis we assessed endothelial, neural, and myogenic activities. At rest and in response to local heating to 39 °C, children had higher skin blood flow and endothelial activity compared with men (d ≥ 1.1, p < 0.001) and similar neurogenic and myogenic activities (d < 0.2, p > 0.05). Maximal responses to 44 °C local skin heating, PORH, and isometric handgrip exercise did not differ between boys and men (all d ≤ 0.2, p > 0.05). During PORH children demonstrated greater endothelial activity compared with men (d ≥ 0.6, p < 0.05); in contrast, men had higher neurogenic activity (d = 1.0, p < 0.01). During isometric handgrip exercise there were no differences in endothelial, neurogenic, and myogenic activities (d < 0.2, p > 0.3), with boys and men demonstrating similar increases in endothelial activity and decreases in myogenic activity (d ≥ 0.8, p < 0.05). These data suggest that boys experience greater levels of skin blood flow at rest and in response to submaximal local heating compared with men, while maximal responses appear to be similar. Additionally, endothelial mediators seem to contribute more to vasodilatation in boys than in men.
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Keywords: Doppler à laser; chaleur locale; children; enfants; exercice physique; exercise; hyperhémie réactive; laser-Doppler; local heating; reactive hyperaemia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Kinesiology, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1, Canada.

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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