Sex differences in integrated neurocardiovascular control of blood pressure following acute intermittent hypercapnic hypoxia

Dain W. Jacob, Elizabeth P. Ott, Sarah E. Baker, Zachariah M. Scruggs, Clayton L. Ivie, Jennifer L. Harper, Camila M. Manrique-Acevedo, Jacqueline Limberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Repetitive hypoxic apneas, similar to those observed in sleep apnea, result in resetting of the sympathetic baroreflex to higher blood pressures (BP). This baroreflex resetting is associated with hypertension in preclinical models of sleep apnea (intermittent hypoxia, IH); however, the majority of understanding comes from males. There are data to suggest that female rats exposed to IH do not develop high BP. Clinical data further support sex differences in the development of hypertension in sleep apnea, but mechanistic data are lacking. Here we examined sex-related differences in the effect of IH on sympathetic control of BP in humans. We hypothesized that after acute IH we would observe a rise in muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and arterial BP in young men (n = 30) that would be absent in young women (n = 19). BP and MSNA were measured during normoxic rest before and after 30 min of IH. Baroreflex sensitivity (modified Oxford) was evaluated before and after IH. A rise in mean BP following IH was observed in men (+2.0 ± 0.7 mmHg, P = 0.03), whereas no change was observed in women (-2.7 ± 1.2 mmHg, P = 0.11). The elevation in MSNA following IH was not different between groups (4.7 ± 1.1 vs. 3.8 ± 1.2 bursts/min, P = 0.65). Sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity did not change after IH in either group (P > 0.05). Our results support sex-related differences in the effect of IH on neurovascular control of BP and show that any BP-raising effects of IH are absent in young women. These data enhance our understanding of sex-specific mechanisms that may contribute to BP changes in sleep apnea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R626-R636
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Volume319
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 4 2020

Keywords

  • Baroreceptors
  • Baroreflex
  • Hypoxia
  • Intermittent hypoxia
  • Muscle sympathetic nerve activity
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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