Portal vein cross-sectional area and flow and orthostatic tolerance: a 90-day bed rest study

Philippe P Arbeille, Stephane S Besnard, Pascaline P Kerbeci, Dania M Mohty
Journal of Applied Physiology 2005, 99 (5): 1853-7
The objective of this study was to evaluate the changes in the portal vein cross-sectional area (PV CSA) and flow during a stand test associated with orthostatic intolerance. Eighteen subjects underwent a 90-day head-down tilt (HDT) bed rest at 6 degrees: 9 controls (Con) and 9 with flywheel exercise countermeasures (CM). At post-HDT, nine subjects (5 CM, 4 Con) were tolerant, and nine were intolerant. The PV CSA was measured by echography. We found that at HDT day 85, the PV CSA at rest had increased less in the CM subjects than in the Con (+12 vs. +27% from pre-HDT supine; P < 0.05), whereas it increased similarly in tolerant and intolerant subjects (23 and 16%, respectively). Two days after the HDT, there was a decrease in the PV CSA supine compared with the pre-HDT PV CSA supine that was similar for all groups (Con: -11%, CM: -21%; tolerant: -10%, intolerant: -16%; P < 0.05). The PV CSA decreased significantly less from supine to standing in the Con than in the CM group (-2 vs. -10% compared with the pre-HDT stand test; P < 0.05). The PV CSA also decreased significantly from supine to standing compared with the pre-HDT stand test in the tolerant group but not in the intolerant group (-20 vs. +2%; P < 0.05). From these findings, we conclude the following. 1) Because the portal vein is the only output from the splanchnic vascular area, we suggest that the lower reduction in the PV CSA and flow associated with orthostatic intolerance was related to a lower splanchnic arterial vasoconstriction. 2) The flywheel exercise CM helped to reduce the distention of the splanchnic network at rest and to maintain partially the splanchnic vasoconstriction, but it did not reduce the orthostatic intolerance.

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