Recently, dietary nitrate supplementation has been shown to improve exercise capacity in healthy individuals through a potential nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. Nitric oxide has been shown to play an important role in compensatory vasodilation during exercise under hypoperfusion. Previously, we established that certain individuals lack a vasodilation response when perfusion pressure reductions compromise exercising muscle blood flow. Whether this lack of compensatory vasodilation in healthy, young individuals can be restored with dietary nitrate supplementation is unknown. Six healthy (21 ± 2 yr), recreationally active men completed a rhythmic forearm exercise. During steady-state exercise, the exercising arm was rapidly transitioned from an uncompromised (below heart) to a compromised (above heart) position, resulting in a reduction in local pressure of −31 ± 1 mmHg. Exercise was completed following 5 days of nitrate-rich (70 ml, 0.4 g nitrate) and nitrate-depleted (70 ml, ~0 g nitrate) beetroot juice consumption. Forearm blood flow (in milliliters per minute; brachial artery Doppler and echo ultrasound), mean arterial blood pressure (in millimeters of mercury; finger photoplethysmography), exercising forearm venous effluent (ante-cubital vein catheter), and plasma nitrite concentrations (chemiluminescence) revealed two distinct vasodilatory responses: nitrate supplementation increased (plasma nitrite) compared with placebo (245 ± 60 vs. 39 ± 9 nmol/l; P < 0.001), and compensatory vasodilation was present following nitrate supplementation (568 ± 117 vs. 714 ± 139 ml ⋅ min−1 ⋅ 100 mmHg−1; P = 0.005) but not in placebo (687 ± 166 vs. 697 ± 171 min−1 ⋅ 100 mmHg−1; P = 0.42). As such, peak exercise capacity was reduced to a lesser degree (−4 ± 39 vs. −39 ± 27 N; P = 0.01). In conclusion, dietary nitrate supplementation during a perfusion pressure challenge is an effective means of restoring exercise capacity and enabling compensatory vasodilation.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY Previously, we identified young, healthy persons who suffer compromised exercise tolerance when exercising muscle perfusion pressure is reduced as a result of a lack of compensatory vasodilation. The ability of nitrate supplementation to restore compensatory vasodilation in such noncompensators is unknown. We demonstrated that beetroot juice supplementation led to compensatory vasodilation and restored perfusion and exercise capacity. Elevated plasma nitrite is an effective intervention for correcting the absence of compensatory vasodilation in the noncompensator phenotype.