Retrograde shear rate in formerly preeclamptic and healthy women before and after exercise training: relationship with endothelial function

Ralph R. Scholten*, Marc E. A. Spaanderman, Daniel J. Green, Maria T. E. Hopman, Dick H. J. Thijssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Blood flow patterns in conduit arteries characterized by high levels of retrograde shear stress can be detrimental for vascular health. In this study we examined whether retrograde shear rate and endothelial function are related in healthy and formerly preeclamptic (PE) women and whether this relationship is altered by exercise training. Formerly PE women (32 +/- 4 yr, n = 20) and controls (32 +/- 4 yr, n = 20), all 6-12 mo postpartum, performed 12-wk aerobic exercise training. We measured brachial artery shear rate (SR) and endothelial function by flow-mediated dilation (FMD, echo-Doppler). We additionally performed power spectral analysis of heart rate variability and calculated low-frequency/high-frequency (LF/HF) ratio. Antegrade SR was not different between groups, while retrograde SR was significantly higher and FMD% lower in PE women compared with controls (both P <0.05). Retrograde shear correlated strongly with FMD% in PE women and controls (P <0.05). LF/HF ratio inversely correlated with brachial artery retrograde SR and FMD% (both P <0.05) in PE women and controls. Exercise training reduced retrograde shear, improved FMD%, and reduced LF/HF ratios similarly in both groups (all P <0.05). Training-induced changes in retrograde SR correlated with changes in FMD% and LF/HF ratio. A higher brachial artery retrograde SR relates to lower brachial artery endothelial function, in both controls and formerly PE women. Exercise training improves retrograde SR, while the magnitude of this change correlated strongly with improvements in FMD and reductions in LF/HF ratio. Therefore, the impact of PE and exercise training on endothelial health may, at least partly, be related to retrograde shear rate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H418-H425
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


  • retrograde shear stress
  • cardiovascular risk
  • endothelial function
  • preeclampsia
  • blood flow pattern
  • exercise

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