Sex‐specific microvascular and hemodynamic responses to passive limb heating in young adults


Objective: We examined sex‐specific microvascular reactivity and hemodynamic responses under conditions of augmented resting blood flow induced by passive heating compared to normal blood flow. Methods:Thirty‐eight adults (19 females) completed a vascular occlusion test (VOT) on two occasions preceded by rest with or without passive heating in a randomized, counterbalanced order. Skeletal muscle tissue oxygenation (StO2, %) was assessed with near‐infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and the rate of desaturation and resaturation as well as maximal StO2 (StO2max) and prolonged hypersaturation (area under the curve, StO2AUC) were quantified. Before the VOT, brachial artery blood flow (BABF), vascular conductance, and relative BABF (BABF normalized to forearm lean mass) were determined. Sex × condition ANOVAs were used. A p‐value ≤.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: Twenty minutes of heating increased BABF compared to the control (102.9 ± 28.3 vs. 36.0 ± 20.9 mL min −1; p textless .01). Males demonstrated greater BABF than females (91.9 ± 34.0 vs. 47.0 ± 19.1 mL min −1; p textless .01). There was no sex difference in normalized BABF. There were no significant interactions for NIRS‐VOT outcomes, but heat did increase the rate of desaturation (−0.140 ± 0.02 vs. −0.119 ± 0.03% s −1; p textless .01), whereas regardless of condition, males exhibited greater rates of resaturation and StO2max than females. Conclusions: These results suggest that blood flow is not the primary factor causing sex differences in NIRS‐VOT outcomes.