Endothelial ischemia-reperfusion injury in humans: Association with age and habitual exercise

Allison E. DeVan, Daniel Umpierre, Michelle L. Harrison, Hsin Fu Lin, Takashi Tarumi, Christopher P. Renzi, Mandeep Dhindsa, Stacy D. Hunter, Hirofumi Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Advancing age is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. Endothelial dysfunction accompanied by increased oxidative stress and inflammation with aging may predispose older arteries to greater ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. Because coronary artery ischemia cannot be induced safely, the effects of age and habitual endurance exercise on endothelial I/R injury have not been determined in humans. Using the brachial artery as a surrogate model of the coronary arteries, endothelial function, assessed by brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD), was measured before and after 20 min of continuous forearm occlusion in young sedentary (n = 10, 24 ± 2 yr) and middle-aged (n = 9, 48 ± 2 yr) sedentary adults to gain insight into the effects of primary aging on endothelial I/R injury. Young (n = 9, 25 ± 1 yr) and middle-aged endurance-trained (n = 9, 50 ± 2 yr) adults were also studied to determine whether habitual exercise provides protection from I/R injury. Fifteen minutes after ischemic injury, FMD decreased significantly by 37% in young sedentary, 35% in young endurancetrained, 68% in middle-aged sedentary, and 50% in middle-aged endurance-trained subjects. FMD returned to baseline levels within 30 min in young sedentary and endurance-trained subjects but remained depressed in middle-aged sedentary and endurance-trained subjects. Circulating markers of antioxidant capacity and inflammation were not related to FMD. In conclusion, advancing age is associated with a greater magnitude and delayed recovery from endothelial I/R injury in humans. Habitual endurance exercise may provide partial protection to the endothelium against this form of I/R injury with advancing age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H813-H819
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Brachial artery
  • Endothelium
  • Flow-mediated dilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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