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OBJECTIVES: We aimed to noninvasively quantify the effects of chronic exercise training on both peripheral and central conduit artery function and structure with high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). BACKGROUND: Physical activity has well-known beneficial effects on vascular function in subjects with endothelial dysfunction. Exercise also leads to beneficial effects on endothelial function in elderly athletes, possibly contributing toward the reduced risk from coronary artery disease in this age group. However, conflicting data exist on the training effects in the younger population. METHODS: A total of 49 young (age 20 to 35 years) nonsmoking subjects, comprising elite rowers and age- and gender-matched sedentary control subjects, underwent MRI (1.5-T). The ascending, the proximal descending, and the distal descending aorta, and the common carotid artery and the brachial artery were assessed for diastolic and systolic area and distensibility. Endothelial-dependent and -independent brachial artery dilatation were also assessed by cine MRI. RESULTS: Rowers showed vascular remodeling with enlarged brachial (by 51%, p < 0.001) and reduced central conduit artery cross-sectional areas (by up to 28% [e.g., distal descending aorta], p < 0.001). Vessel distensibilities (mm Hg(-1)) were similar for elite rowers when compared with sedentary control subjects at all levels of the aorta and the carotid and brachial artery (p > 0.05 for all). Endothelial-dependent dilation (percentage and mm2) was similar for rowers and control subjects (p > 0.05). However, rowers showed reduced absolute (by 33%) endothelial-independent dilation (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Young elite rowers demonstrate normal endothelial-dependent but reduced endothelial-independent dilation. Chronic, whole body, combined endurance- and strength-training does not lead to changes in arterial stiffness but to vascular remodeling.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Coll Cardiol

Publication Date





790 - 797


Adult, Aorta, Brachial Artery, Carotid Arteries, Case-Control Studies, Elasticity, Endothelium, Vascular, Exercise, Female, Heart Rate, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Physical Endurance, Regional Blood Flow, Sports