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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of selective and nonselective beta-adrenergic blockade on mechanisms of exercise conditioning.

Exercise conditioning involves adaptations in the heart, peripheral circulation, and trained skeletal muscle that result in improved exercise capacity. Since the specific influence of beta-adrenergic stimulation on these various adaptations has not been clear, we studied the effect of beta 1-selective and nonselective beta-adrenergic blockade on the exercise conditioning response of 24 healthy, sedentary men after an intensive 6 week aerobic training program. Subjects randomly assigned to receive placebo, 50 mg bid atenolol, or 40 mg bid nadolol were tested before and after training both on and off drugs. Comparable reductions in maximal exercise heart rate occurred with atenolol and nadolol, indicating equivalent beta 1-adrenergic blockade. Vascular beta 2-adrenergic selectivity was maintained with atenolol as determined by calf plethysmography during intravenous infusion of epinephrine. All subjects trained at greater than 85% of maximal heart rate and 80% of VO2 max determined on drug. VO2 max increased after training 16 +/- 2% (p less than .05) in the placebo group and 6 +/- 2% (p less than .05) in the atenolol group, while there was no change in the nadolol group. At maximal exercise, subjects receiving placebo increased their exercise duration and oxygen pulse significantly greater than those receiving atenolol or nadolol. During submaximal exercise there were reductions in heart rate and heart rate-blood pressure product in all three groups, but these reductions were greater with placebo than with either drug. Leg blood flow during submaximal exercise decreased 24 +/- 2% (p less than .01) in the placebo group but was unchanged in the atenolol and nadolol groups. Lactates in arterialized blood during submaximal exercise were reduced equivalently in all three groups after training. Capillary/fiber ratio in vastus lateralis muscle biopsy specimens increased 31 +/- 6% in the placebo group and 21 +/- 6% in the atenolol group (both p less than .05) and tended to increase in the nadolol group. Succinic dehydrogenase and cytochrome oxidase activities in muscle biopsy specimens increased equivalently in all three groups, especially during submaximal exercise, these changes were less marked than that with placebo. While beta-adrenergic blockade attenuated the exercise conditioning response, skeletal muscle adaptations including increases in oxidative enzymes, capillary supply, and decreases in exercise blood lactates were unaffected. Cardiac and peripheral vascular adaptations do appear to be affected by beta-adrenergic blockade during training. Cardioselectivity does not seem to be important in modifying these effects.[1]


  1. Effects of selective and nonselective beta-adrenergic blockade on mechanisms of exercise conditioning. Wolfel, E.E., Hiatt, W.R., Brammell, H.L., Carry, M.R., Ringel, S.P., Travis, V., Horwitz, L.D. Circulation (1986) [Pubmed]
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