European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology vol:59 issue:1-2 pages:131-7
Physical effort involves, along with an increase in the plasma concentration of beta-endorphin, profound cardiovascular adaptations. The aim of the present study was to investigate with the use of the variable neck chamber technique, the influence of the endogenous opioids on the carotid baroreflex control of blood pressure and heart rate at rest as well as during exercise. Ten normal volunteers exercised in the supine position up to 33% and 66% of their maximal exercise capacity and received, in a randomized double-blind cross-over protocol, either saline or naloxone (10 mg intravenously, followed by a continuous infusion of 10 mg.h-1). During exercise a progressive attenuation of the carotid baroreceptor reflex control of blood pressure and heart rate was noted. However, neither at rest nor during exercise, did opioid antagonism influence the carotid baroreceptor control of blood pressure and heart rate. Intra-arterial pressure and heart rate also remained unaffected. In contrast, both at rest and during exercise, naloxone administration produced a significant increase in the plasma concentration of cortisol. The latter suggests that in vivo the opioid receptors were effectively antagonized. In conclusion the present study confirms that opioids play only a minor role in cardiovascular homeostasis at rest. In addition, this study demonstrates that they are not involved in the cardiovascular adaptation to exercise, nor in the exercise-related attenuation of the carotid baroreceptor control of pressure and heart rate.