Cutaneous vasodilation is reduced in healthy older vs. young subjects; however, the mechanisms that underlie these age-related changes are unclear. Our goal in the present study was to determine the role of nitric oxide (NO) and the axon reflexes in the skin blood flow (SkBF) response to local heating with advanced age. We placed two microdialysis fibers in the forearm skin of 10 young (Y; 22 ± 2 yr) and 10 older (O; 77 ± 5 yr) men and women. SkBF over each site was measured by laser-Doppler flowmetry (LDF; Moor DRT4). Both sites were heated to 42°C for ∼60 min while 10 mM NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) was infused throughout the protocol to inhibit NO synthase (NOS) in one site and 10 mM L-NAME was infused after 40 min of local heating in the second site. Data were expressed as a percentage of maximal vasodilation (%CVC-max; 28 mM nitroprusside infusion). Local heating before L-NAME infusion resulted in a significantly reduced initial peak (Y: 61 ± 2%CVCmax vs. O: 46 ± 4%CVCmax) and plateau (Y: 93 ± 2%CVCmax vs. O: 82 ± 5%CVCmax) CVC values in older subjects (P < 0.05). When NOS was inhibited after 40 min of heating, CVC declined to the same value in the young and older groups. Thus the overall contribution of NO to the plateau phase of the SkBF response to local heating was less in the older subjects. The initial peak response was significantly lower in the older subjects in both microdialysis sites (Y: 52 ± 4%CVCmax vs. O: 38 ± 5%CVCmax; P < 0.05). These data suggest that age-related changes in both axon reflex-mediated and NO-mediated vasodilation contribute to attenuated cutaneous vasodilator responses in the elderly.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)