Renal nerves dynamically regulate renal blood flow in conscious, healthy rabbits

Alicia M. Schiller, Peter R. Pellegrino, Irving H. Zucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Despite significant clinical interest in renal denervation as a therapy, the role of the renal nerves in the physiological regulation of renal blood flow (RBF) remains debated. We hypothesized that the renal nerves physiologically regulate beat-to-beat RBF variability (RBFV). This was tested in chronically instrumented, healthy rabbits that underwent either bilateral surgical renal denervation (DDNx) or a sham denervation procedure (INV). Artifact-free segments of RBF and arterial pressure (AP) from calmly resting, conscious rabbits were used to extract RBFV and AP variability for time-domain, frequency-domain, and nonlinear analysis. Whereas steady-state measures of RBF, AP, and heart rate did not statistically differ between groups, DDNx rabbits had greater RBFV than INV rabbits. AP-RBF transfer function analysis showed greater admittance gain in DDNx rabbits than in INV rabbits, particularly in the low-frequency (LF) range where systemic sympathetic vasomotion gives rise to AP oscillations. In the LF range, INV rabbits exhibited a negative AP-RBF phase shift and low coherence, consistent with the presence of an active control system. Neither of these features were present in the LF range of DDNx rabbits, which showed no phase shift and high coherence, consistent with a passive, Ohm’s law pressure-flow relationship. Renal denervation did not significantly affect nonlinear RBFV measures of chaos, self-affinity, or complexity, nor did it significantly affect glomerular filtration rate or extracellular fluid volume. Cumulatively, these data suggest that the renal nerves mediate LF renal sympathetic vasomotion, which buffers RBF from LF AP oscillations in conscious, healthy rabbits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R156-R166
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016


  • Dynamic autoregulation
  • Renal blood flow variability
  • Renal denervation
  • Renal nerves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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