Dr. Kyra Pyke, Ph.D. (Queen's)

Associate Professor, Tenured
Area of Expertise: 
Cardiovascular Physiology
Contact Information
613-533-6000 x79631
KHS 301C

Research summary

My interests focus on three interacting areas of human cardiovascular research: i) endothelial function, ii) autonomic function and iii) the physiological effects of psychosocial stress. The vascular endothelium is a single layer of cells that lines all of the blood vessels in the body. It exerts local control over vascular tone and also plays a key role in modulating atherosclerosis development. One branch of my research is aimed at i) improving our understanding of how the endothelium responds to changes in blood flow, ii) improving endothelial function assessment in humans, and iii) understanding how endothelial function changes with disease. The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system increases heart rate and causes vasoconstriction. Acute changes in sympathetic nervous activity occur during exercise and are essential for blood pressure regulation. In contrast, the chronically elevated sympathetic nervous activity observed in some disease states (e.g. congestive heart failure and sleep apnea) contributes to pathological vascular adaptations. My interests lie in understanding how acute and chronic sympathetic nervous activation influence vascular tone, compliance and endothelial function. Psychosocial stress is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, although the physiological basis of this connection is not fully understood. Initially focused on basic, mechanistic questions, this research will lead to an investigation of the ability of stress reduction interventions (e.g. stress management counselling) to improve physiological measures of cardiovascular function and health.

Laboratory: Cardiovascular Stress Response Laboratory - School of Kinesiology and Health Studies

Graduate student training opportunities

Accepting students at the master's and PhD level for September 2015-2016.

Current funding

Canada Foundation for Innovation 

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Recent publications

  • T.J. King, H. Lemke, A.D. Green, D.A. Tripp, V.J. Poitras, B.J. Gurd and K.E. Pyke.  Impaired brachial artery endothelial function in young healthy women following an acute painful stimulus.  European Journal of Applied Physiology.  2015 Mar 1 [epub ahead of print]
  • D. Montero, G. Walther, C. Diaz-Canestro, K.E. Pyke, J. Padilla.  Microvascular dilator function in athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2014, Nov. 10,  Epub ahead of print.
  • V.J. Poitras, D. J. Slattery, B.J. Gurd and K.E.Pyke.  Evidence that meal fat content does not impact hemodynamic reactivity to or recovery from repeated mental stress tasks.  Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism.  2014, 39(11): 1314- 21.
  • D. Montero, J. Padilla, C. Diaz-Cañestro, D. M. Muris, K. E. Pyke, P. Obert, G. Walther.  Flow-mediated dilation in athletes: influence of aging.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.  2014, 46(11): 2148-58. 
  • I.C. Szijgyarto, V.J. Poitras, B.J. Gurd and K.E. Pyke.  (2014). Acute psychological and physical stress transiently enhances brachial artery flow mediated dilation stimulated by exercise induced increases in shear stress. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.  39(8):927-307.
  • J.Ku, A. McEvoy, K.E. Pyke. (2014) Can a Combination of Handgrip Exercise and Prolonged Forearm Occulusion Elicit a Maximal Brachial Artery FMD response?  European Journal of Applied Physiology.  2014, 114(6):1297-306.
  • V.J. Poitras, D.J. Slattery, B.M Levac, S. Fergus, B.J. Gurd and K.E. Pyke. (2014).  The influence of fat consumption and repeated mental stress on brachial artery flow mediated vasodilation: a preliminary study. Experimental Physiology. 2014, 99(4):715-28.
  • I.C. Szijgyarto, T.J. King, J. Ku, V.J. Poitras, B.J. Gurd, K.E. Pyke. (2013).  The impact of acute mental stress on brachial artery flow mediated dilation differs when shear stress is elevated by reactive hyperemia vs. handgrip exercise.  Applied Physiology, Nutirtion, and Metabolism.  38(5):498-506.
  • V.J. Poitras and K.E. Pyke. (2013). The impact of acute mental stress on vascular endothelial function:  Magnitude, mechanisms and importance.  International Journal of Psychophysiology. 88(2): 124-35.
  • B.B. Fundlay, P. Gupta, I.C. Szijgyarto and K.E. Pyke. (2013).  Impaired brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation in response to handgrip exercise induced increases in shear stress in young smokers.  Vascular Medciine. 18(2):63-71.
  • T.J. King, D.J. Slattery, and K.E. Pyke. (2013).  The impact of handgrip exercise duty cycle on brachial artery flow-mediated dilation.  European Journal of Applied Physiology. 113(7):1849-58.
  • F. Jazuli and K.E. Pyke (2011).  The impact of baseline artery diameter on flow-mediated vasodilation: A comparison of brachial and radial artery responses to matched levels of shear stress.  American Journal of Physiology.  301(4): H1667-77

  • K.E. Pyke and F. Jazuli (2011). Impact of repeated increases in shear stress via reactive hyperemia and handgrip exercise: No evidence of systematic changes in brachial artery FMD.  American Journal of Physiology 300 (3): H1078-1089

  • D. H.J. Thijssen, M.A. Black, K. E. Pyke, J. Padilla, G. Atkinson, R. A. Harris, B. Parker, M. E. Widlansky, M. E. Tschakovsky, D.J.Green. (2011)  Assessment of flow mediated dilation (FMD) in humans: A methodological and physiological guideline.  American Journal of Physiology 300(1): H2-12.  

  • K.E.Pyke.  Are we still on the fence or can we open the gate?  Evidence that QRS-gating in FMD analysis is not essential.  Journal of Applied Physiology.  109(4): 945-6      Free link to article

  • K.E. Pyke, Green, D., Weisbrond, C, Best, M. Dembo, L., O'Driscoll, G. and Tschakovsky, M.E. (2010).  Nitric oxide is not obligatory for radial artery flow-mediated dilation following release of 5 or 10 min of distal occlusion.  American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology. 298(1):H119-26

  • K.E.Pyke, J.A.Hartnett, and M.E.Tschakovsy. (2008). Are the dynamic response characteristics of brachial artery FMD sensitive to the magnitude of the increase in SS? Journal of Applied Physiology. 105(1): 282-92.

  • K.E.Pyke, V.Poitras and M.E.Tschakovsky. (2008). Brachial artery flow mediated dilation during handgrip exercise: evidence for endothelial transduction of the mean shear stimulus. American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology. 294(6): H2669-79.