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American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative physiology





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Recognizing the age-related decline in skeletal muscle feed artery (SMFA) vasodilatory function, this study examined the link between vasodilatory and mitochondrial respiratory function in the human vasculature. Twenty-four SMFAs were harvested from young (35 ± 6 yr, n = 9) and old (71 ± 9 yr, n = 15) subjects. Vasodilation in SMFAs was assessed, by pressure myography, in response to flow-induced shear stress, acetylcholine (ACh), and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) while mitochondrial respiration was measured, by respirometry, in permeabilized SMFAs. Endothelium-dependent vasodilation was significantly attenuated in the old, induced by both flow (young: 92 ± 3, old: 45 ± 4%) and ACh (young: 92 ± 3, old: 54 ± 5%), with no significant difference in endothelium-independent vasodilation. Complex I and I + II state 3 respiration was significantly lower in the old (CI young: 10.1 ± 0.8, old: 7.0 ± 0.4 pmol·s−1·mg−1; CI + II young: 12.3 ± 0.6, old: 7.6 ± 0.4 pmol·s−1·mg−1). The respiratory control ratio (RCR) was also significantly attenuated in the old (young: 2.2 ± 0.1, old: 1.1 ± 0.1). Furthermore, state 3 (CI + II) and 4 respiration, as well as RCR, were significantly correlated (r = 0.49–0.86) with endothelium-dependent, but not endothelium-independent, function. Finally, the direct intervention with mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant (MitoQ) significantly improved endothelium-dependent vasodilation in the old but not in the young. Thus, the age-related decline in vasodilatory function is linked to attenuated vascular mitochondrial respiratory function, likely by augmented free radicals.


This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on March 16, 2020 and can be accessed at