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Interaction of Baroreceptor and Chemoreceptor Reflexes MODULATION OF THE CHEMORECEPTOR REFLEX BY CHANGES IN BARORECEPTOR ACTIVITY

Donald D. Heistad, Francois M. Abboud, Allyn L. Mark and Phillip G. Schmid

Cardiovascular Division, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine, and the Veterans Administration Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Published May 1974

The purpose of this study was to determine whether the level of arterial pressure and degree of baroreceptor activation affect responses to stimulation of chemoreceptors. Chemoreceptors were stimulated by injecting nicotine into the common carotid artery of anesthetized and paralyzed dogs. Responses were observed in the innervated gracilis muscle, perfused at constant flow while perfusion pressure was measured. Arterial pressure was lowered by bleeding the animals and raised by transient occlusion of the descending aorta. Vasoconstrictor responses to stimulation of chemoreceptors were enhanced by hypotension and inhibited by elevation of arterial pressure. Potentiation of the chemoreceptor reflex by hemorrhagic hypotension was not the result of altered vascular resistance in the gracilis muscle, sensitization of chemoreceptors by catecholamines or acidosis, or changes in cerebral perfusion pressure.

Additional studies were done in which we excluded the possibility that the changes resulted from direct effects of changes in arterial pressure on chemoreceptors. Both carotid bifurcations were isolated and perfused. On one side, pressure was raised to stimulate the carotid sinus baroreceptors. On the other side, the carotid body chemoreceptors were stimulated by nicotine or by hypoxic and hypercapnic blood. Activation of baroreceptors on one side attenuated the vasoconstrictor response to chemoreceptor stimulation on the other side. This excludes a direct effect of changes in arterial pressure on the chemoreceptors and suggests a central interaction of these reflexes.

We conclude that vasoconstrictor responses to stimulation of chemoreceptors are potentiated by hypotension and inhibited by transient hypertension. These effects appear to result at least in part from a central interaction of chemoreceptor and baroreceptor reflexes.

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