Localised cutaneous microvascular adaptation to exercise training in humans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Ceri L. Atkinson
  • Howard H. Carter
  • Dick H.J. Thijssen
  • Gurpreet K. Birk
  • David A. Low
  • Floortje Kerstens
  • Iris Meeuwis
  • Ellen A. Dawson
  • Daniel J. Green

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Western Australia
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • Radboud University
  • Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • Department of Sports Science
  • Aspire Academy


Purpose: Exercise training induces adaptation in conduit and resistance arteries in humans, partly as a consequence of repeated elevation in blood flow and shear stress. The stimuli associated with intrinsic cutaneous microvascular adaptation to exercise training have been less comprehensively studied.

Methods: We studied 14 subjects who completed 8-weeks cycle ergometer training, with partial cuff inflation on one forearm to unilaterally attenuate cutaneous blood flow responses during each exercise-training bout. Before and after training, bilateral forearm skin microvascular dilation was determined using cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC: skin flux/blood pressure) responses to gradual localised heater disk stimulation performed at rest (33, 40, 42 and 44 °C).

Results: Cycle exercise induced significant increases in forearm cutaneous flux and temperature, which were attenuated in the cuffed arm (2-way ANOVA interaction-effect; P OpenSPiltSPi 0.01). We found that forearm CVC at 42 and 44 °C was significantly lower in the uncuffed arm following 8-weeks of cycle training (P OpenSPiltSPi 0.01), whereas no changes were apparent in the contralateral cuffed arm (P = 0.77, interaction-effect P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Lower limb exercise training in healthy young men leads to lower CVC-responses to a local heating stimulus, an adaptation mediated, at least partly, by a mechanism related to episodic increases in skin blood flow and/or skin temperature.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-845
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
Early online date7 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Blood flow, Exercise training, Skin microcirculation

Sustainable Development Goals