TK Khong, DJ McIntyre, GA Sagnella, ND Markandu, MA Miller, EH Baker, JR Griffiths, GA MacGregor
BACKGROUND: Several studies in isolated cells have reported that intracellular pH (pHi) in individuals with essential hypertension may be relatively alkaline compared to normotensive individuals. Such an abnormality of pHi in hypertension would be consistent with enhanced sodium-hydrogen exchanger activity and may provide potential mechanisms by which hypertension and its complications could develop. OBJECTIVES: To determine in-vivo intracellular pH of skeletal muscle at rest and during recovery from exercise-induced acidosis in hypertensive and normotensive subjects. METHODS: Using 31-phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy, pHi of the dominant flexor digitorum superficialis was measured in 20 Caucasian subjects (14 male) with essential hypertension and 20 normotensive controls matched for gender, age, race and body mass index. Measurements were made at rest and during the exercise and recovery periods of a stepped incremental maximal exercise protocol. The rate of pHi recovery from exercise-induced acidosis was calculated by linear regression over the first 210 s of recovery from the pHi time plots of respective subjects. RESULTS: Mean resting pHi in the hypertensive (7.05 +/- 0.04) and normotensive groups (7.06 +/- 0.04) were not significantly different. There was a significant effect of gender on pHi: mean pHi was 7.07 +/- 0.03 in males and 7.02 +/- 0.03 in females, respectively (P < 0.0005). The mean intracellular pH achieved by exercise was 6.74 +/- 0.31 in hypertensive individuals and not significantly different in normotensive individuals (6.68 +/- 0.19; P = 0.4). The mean rate of pHi recovery in the hypertensives was 0.08 +/- 0.03 pH units/min and not significantly different in normotensives (0.08 +/- 0.02; P = 0.4). CONCLUSIONS: These results contrast with previously documented abnormalities in the control of pHi in hypertension and demonstrate the absence of major in-vivo disturbances of pHi in skeletal muscle, both at rest and during recovery from exercise-induced acidosis, in essential hypertension. Therefore, it is possible that previously documented abnormalities of pHi and activity of the exchanger may be either specific to cell type or not present under in-vivo conditions.