Exercise training enhances baroreflex control of heart rate by a vagal mechanism in rabbits with heart failure

Jun Li Liu, Jay Kulakofsky, Irving H. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Moderate exercise training (Ex) enhances work capacity and quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). We investigated the autonomic components of resting heart rate (HR) and the baroreflex control of HR in conscious, instrumented rabbits with pacing-induced CHF after Ex. Sham and CHF rabbits were exercise trained for 4 wk at 15-18 m/min, 6 days/wk. Arterial pressure and HR were recorded before and after metoprolol (1 mg/kg iv) or after atropine (0.2 mg/kg iv). Mean arterial pressure was altered by infusions of sodium nitroprusside and phenylephrine. The data were fit to a sigmoid (logistic) function. Baseline HRs were 266.5 ± 8.4 and 232.1 ± 1.6 beats/min in CHF and CHF Ex rabbits, respectively (P < 0.05). In the unblocked state, CHF rabbits had a significantly depressed peak baroreflex slope (1.7 ± 0.3 vs. 5.6 ± 0.7 beats·min-1·mmHg-1; P < 0.001) and HR range (128.6 ± 34.5 vs. 253.2 ± 20.3 beats/min; P < 0.05) compared with normal subjects. Ex increased baroreflex slope to 4.9 ± 0.3 from 1.7 ± 0.3 beats·min-1·mmHg-1 in unblocked rabbits (P < 0.001 compared with CHF non-Ex). Ex did not alter baroreflex function in sham animals. After metoprolol, baroreflex slope was significantly increased in CHF Ex rabbits (1.5 ± 0.2 vs. 3.0 ± 0.2 beats·min-1·mmHg-1; P < 0.05). After atropine, there was no significant change in baroreflex slope or HR range between CHF Ex and CHF rabbits. These data support the view that enhancement of baroreflex control of HR after Ex is due to an augmentation of vagal tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2403-2408
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Autonomic regulation
  • Vagus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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