Upper and lower limb muscle sympathetic responses to contralateral exercise in healthy humans: A pilot study

  • Jordan B. Lee
    Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
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  • Keisho Katayama
    Research Center of Health, Physical Fitness and Sports, Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya University, Japan
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  • Philip J. Millar
    Corresponding author at: Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
    Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

    Toronto General Research Institute, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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Published:September 08, 2022DOI:


      Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) is similar between limbs at rest, although a subset of MSNA bursts do demonstrate limb-specific discharge. Whether limb differences in MSNA synchronicity are present during exercise remains controversial. We concurrently measured MSNA from the radial and fibular nerves at rest and during rhythmic handgrip (RHG), static handgrip (SHG), and post-exercise circulatory occlusion (PECO). MSNA burst frequency and incidence were similar between nerve sites during all conditions. Synchronous bursts resulted in larger increases in sympathetic-blood pressure transduction compared to isolated bursts (∆ + 3.6 ± 2.1 vs. +2.3 ± 2.4 mmHg, P = 0.01). The proportion of bursts firing synchronously between nerves at rest was slightly increased during RHG ([rest vs. exercise; mean ± SD] 45.3 ± 7.1 vs. 61.6 ± 7.2 %) and similar during SHG (56.2 ± 7.2 vs. 54 ± 10.6 %). In contrast, burst firing synchronicity increased during PECO (83.8 ± 12.4 %) alongside larger burst amplitudes. Inter-limb differences in resting MSNA are preserved during handgrip exercise, whereas isolated metaboreflex activation results in greater burst synchronization between limbs.


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