Static contraction of hind-limb muscles is well known to increase reflexly cardiovascular function. Recently, blockade of cyclooxygenase activity has been reported to attenuate the reflex pressor response to contraction, a finding which suggests that working skeletal muscle releases arachidonic acid metabolites. Therefore, we measured the effects of static contraction and ischemia on arachidonic acid levels in the gastrocnemius muscles of barbiturate-anesthetized cats treated with indomethacin. Unesterified arachidonic acid levels were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography. We found that static contraction of freely perfused gastrocnemius muscles increased arachidonic acid levels from 4.4 +/- 1.0 to 10.3 +/- 2.2 nmol/g wet wt (n = 12; P less than 0.005). Likewise, static contraction of gastrocnemius muscles made ischemic for 2 min before the onset of the contraction period increased arachidonic acid levels from 12.6 +/- 2.3 to 21.0 +/- 2.0 nmol/g wet wt (n = 12; P less than 0.01). Lastly, 2 min of ischemia with the gastrocnemius muscles at rest increased arachidonic acid levels from 5.9 +/- 1.1 to 10.5 +/- 3.0 nmol/g wet wt (n = 18; P less than 0.02). We conclude that both static contraction and ischemia increase arachidonic acid levels in working hindlimb muscle.
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