Modulation of baroreflex and baroreceptor function in experimental heart failure.

I. H. Zucker, W. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The reflex control of the circulation is clearly abnormal in heart failure. It has been known for many years that the baroreflex control of heart rate is depressed in both humans and animals with heart failure. The mechanisms for these abnormalities have not been well worked out. We have carried out experiments to determine the relative roles of the various components involved in the arterial baroreflex arc which may be abnormal in chronic heart failure. An experimental model of chronic heart failure was used which involved continuous ventricular pacing in dogs for periods of up to 6 weeks. This model is characterized by progressive increases in left atrial and left ventricular enddiastolic pressure with increases in resting heart rate and decreases in mean arterial pressure. The dogs become edematous, showing both pulmonary and peripheral edema and ascites. Exercise tolerance is also reduced. Three sets of experiments are described. In the first study, the activity from arterial baroreceptors was recorded in normal dogs and in dogs with heart failure. Carotid sinus pressure-receptor discharge curves were constructed along with pressure-diameter curves. Increasing carotid sinus pressure using either static or pulsatile pressure steps from below threshold to saturation levels caused an increase in discharge at each step. The curves generated in each group of dogs showed that the baroreceptor discharge sensitivity was significantly depressed in the dogs with heart failure. The peak slope of the curves as well as the threshold were significantly different from the normal dogs. There were no differences in carotid sinus compliance curves between the two groups of dogs. Perfusion of the carotid sinus with a dose of ouabain which did not constrict the carotid sinus (0.01 micrograms/ml) caused a shift in the pressure-discharge curve back to that seen in normal dogs. This dose of ouabain did not affect discharge sensitivity in normal dogs. These data suggest that an augmentation of Na-K ATPase in baroreceptor nerve endings in heart failure contributes to the poor discharge sensitivity. In the second series of experiments, the baroreflex control of heart rate was evaluated in dogs before and after heart failure had been induced. Both reflex tachycardia (in response to nitroglycerin) and reflex bradycardia (in response to phenylephrine) were depressed in dogs with heart failure. The use of cholinergic and beta adrenergic blocking drugs indicated that both arms of the autonomic control of the heart were partly responsible for this depressed chronotropic response.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalBasic research in cardiology
Volume86 Suppl 3
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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