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Interval exercise increases angiogenic cell function in postmenopausal women
  1. Emma Harris1,
  2. Mark Rakobowchuk2,
  3. Karen M Birch3
  1. 1 School of Human and Health Sciences,University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK
  2. 2 Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3 Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Karen M Birch, School of Biomedical Sciences,Faculty of Biological Sciences,University of Leeds,Leeds,LS2 9JT; k.m.birch{at}


Introduction 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 has differential effects on endothelial function and circulating angiogenic cell (CAC) number and function in postmenopausal women.

Methods 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-exercise and 15 min post-exercise session. CAC number and colony-forming capacity in vitro were assessed post exercise and compared with resting levels.

Results 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 1 (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).

Conclusion 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.

  • menopause
  • interval and continuous exercise
  • endothelial function
  • circulating angiogenic cells

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  • Contributors KMB and MR designed the study. MR and EH performed data collection. All authors contributed to data analysis and interpretation and drafting of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by a British Heart Foundation Project Grant 378 (PG/08/060/25340).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University of Leeds Faculty of Biological Sciences Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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