Recent Insights into Carotid Baroreflex Function in Humans Using the Variable Pressure Neck Chamber

Authors

  • Paul J. Fadel,

    1. Department of Integrative Physiology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    • *

      Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-8586, USA.

  • Shigehiko Ogoh,

    1. Department of Integrative Physiology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX, USA
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  • David M. Keller,

    1. Department of Integrative Physiology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX, USA
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  • Peter B. Raven

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Integrative Physiology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX, USA
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Abstract

The variable pressure neck chamber has provided an invaluable research tool for the non-invasive assessment of carotid baroreflex (CBR) function in human investigations. The ability to construct complete stimulus-response curves and define specific parameters of the reflex function curve permits statistical comparisons of baroreflex function between different experimental conditions, such as rest and exercise. Results have convincingly indicated that the CBR stimulus-response curve is reset during exercise in an intensity-dependent manner to functionally operate around the prevailing pressure elicited by the exercise workload. Furthermore, both at rest and during exercise, alterations in stroke volume do not contribute importantly to the maintenance of arterial blood pressure by the carotid baroreceptors, and therefore, any reflex-induced changes in cardiac output (Q) are the result of CBR-mediated changes in heart rate. However, more importantly, the CBR-induced changes in mean arterial pressure (MAP) are primarily mediated by alterations in vascular conductance with only minimal contributions from Q to the initial reflex MAP response. Thus, the capacity of the CBR to regulate blood pressure depends critically on its ability to alter vascular tone both at rest and during exercise. This review will emphasize the utility of the variable pressure neck chamber to assess CBR function in human experimental investigations and the mechanisms by which the CBR responds to alterations in arterial blood pressure both at rest and during exercise.

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