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Sex differences in blood pressure control during 6° head-down tilt bed rest.

American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology (2013-02-12)
Natalia M Arzeno, Michael B Stenger, Stuart M C Lee, Robert Ploutz-Snyder, Steven H Platts
ABSTRACT

Spaceflight-induced orthostatic intolerance has been studied for decades. Although ∼22% of the astronaut corps are women, most mechanistic studies use mostly male subjects, despite known sex differences in autonomic control and postflight orthostatic intolerance. We studied adrenergic, baroreflex, and autonomic indexes during continuous infusions of vasoactive drugs in men and women during a 60-day head-down bed rest. Volunteers were tested before bed rest (20 men and 10 women) and around day 30 (20 men and 10 women) and day 60 (16 men and 8 women) of bed rest. Three increasing doses of phenylephrine (PE) and sodium nitroprusside were infused for 10 min after an infusion of normal saline. A 20-min rest period separated the phenylephrine and sodium nitroprusside infusions. Autonomic activity was approximated by spectral indexes of heart rate and blood pressure variability, and baroreflex sensitivity was measured by the spontaneous baroreflex slope. Parasympathetic modulation and baroreflex sensitivity decreased with bed rest, with women experiencing a larger decrease in baroreflex sensitivity by day 30 than men. The sympathetic activation of men and parasympathetic responsiveness of women in blood pressure control during physiological stress were preserved throughout bed rest. During PE infusions, women experienced saturation of the R-R interval at high frequency, whereas men did not, revealing a sex difference in the parabolic relationship between high-frequency R-R interval, a measurement of respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and R-R interval. These sex differences in blood pressure control during simulated microgravity reveal the need to study sex differences in long-duration spaceflight to ensure the health and safety of the entire astronaut corps.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Supelco
Phenylephrine Hydrochloride, Pharmaceutical Secondary Standard; Certified Reference Material
Sigma-Aldrich
Sodium nitroferricyanide(III) dihydrate, ACS reagent, ≥99%
Sigma-Aldrich
(R)-(−)-Phenylephrine hydrochloride, powder
Sigma-Aldrich
(R)-(−)-Phenylephrine hydrochloride, analytical standard
Sigma-Aldrich
Sodium nitroprusside dihydrate, puriss. p.a., ACS reagent, reag. Ph. Eur., ≥99%
Supelco
R-(-)-Phenylephrine hydrochloride solution, 1.0 mg/mL in methanol (as free base), ampule of 1 mL, certified reference material, Cerilliant®
Phenylephrine hydrochloride for peak identification, European Pharmacopoeia (EP) Reference Standard