Harris, Emma, Rakobowchuk, Mark and Birch, Karen M. (2017) Interval exercise increases angiogenic cell function in postmenopausal women. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 3. ISSN 2055-7647

Exercise can help to negate the increased cardiovascular disease risk observed in women after the menopausal transition. This study sought to determine whether interval or continuous exercise have differential effects on endothelial function and circulating angiogenic cell (CAC) number and function in postmenopausal women.

Fifteen healthy postmenopausal women completed a 30 min acute moderate-intensity continuous (CON) and interval exercise (MOD-INT) session on a cycle ergometer on separate days. Nine participants completed a further single 30 min acute heavy-intensity interval (HEAVY-INT) exercise session. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was assessed pre and 15 min post exercise session. CAC number and colony forming capacity in vitro were assessed post exercise and compared to resting levels.

FMD and CAC number did not change post exercise regardless of exercise type (p > 0.05). However, the number (mean ± SD) of colony forming units (CFUs) increased from visit one (12 ± 10 CFUs/well) to post MOD-INT (32 ± 30 CFUs/well) and post HEAVY-INT (38 ± 23 CFUs/well) but not post CON (13 ± 14 CFUs/well).

A single session of interval exercise is more effective than a continuous exercise session for increasing the intercellular communication of CACs, regardless of exercise intensity. The enhanced ability of CACs to form colonies may reflect an increased number and/or function of angiogenic T-cells. The repeated exertions to higher work-rates during interval exercise may explain this response. Repeated exercise sessions might be required to improve FMD in postmenopausal women.

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