Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences


Jason R. Carter


Acute alcohol consumption has been reported to decrease mean arterial pressure (MAP) during orthostatic challenge, a response that may contribute to alcohol-mediated hypotension and eventually syncope. Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) increases during orthostatic stress to help maintain MAP, yet the influence of alcohol on MSNA during orthostatic stress has not been determined. We hypothesized that alcohol ingestion would blunt arterial blood pressure and MSNA responses to progressive lower body negative pressure (LBNP). MAP, MSNA, and heart rate (HR) were recorded during progressive LBNP (-5, -10, -15, -20, -30, and -40 mmHg; 3 min/stage) in 30 subjects(age 24 ± 1 yrs). After an initial progressive LBNP protocol (pre-treatment), subjects were randomly assigned to consume alcohol (0.8g ethanol/kg body mass; n=15) or placebo (n=15) and then repeated the progressive LBNP protocol (post-treatment). Alcohol increased (drug × treatment, P ≤ 0.05) resting HR (59 ± 2 to 65 ± 2 beats/min) and MSNA (13 ± 3 to 19 ± 4 bursts/min) when compared to placebo. While alcohol increased MAP (83 ± 2 to 87 ± 2 mmHg), these increases were also observed with placebo (82 ± 2 to 88 ± 1 mmHg; treatment, P < 0.05; drug × treatment, P > 0.05). During progressive LBNP, a prominent decrease in MAP was observed after alcohol (drug × time × treatment, P < 0.05), but not placebo. There was also a significant attenuated response in forearm vascular resistance (FVR) during progressive LBNP (drug × time × treatment, P < 0.05). MSNA and HR increased during all LBNP protocols, but there were no differences between treatments or groups (drugs). In summary, acute alcohol ingestion induces an attenuation in blood pressure response during an orthostatic challenge, possibly due to the effect that alcohol has on impairing peripheral blood vessel constriction.

Included in

Biology Commons