The purpose of this study was to define the relation between carotid distending pressure and muscle sympathetic activity in humans. Carotid baroreceptors of nine healthy subjects were compressed or stretched for 5 s with graded neck pressure or suction (+40 to -65 mmHg), and muscle sympathetic nerve activity was recorded. The results delineate several features of human baroreflex function. First, the carotid-muscle sympathetic relation is well described by an inverse sigmoid function. Second, a linear relation exists between carotid distending pressure and sympathetic outflow over a range of approximately 25 mmHg. Third, sympathetic responses to changes of carotid pressures are asymmetric; increases of sympathetic activity during carotid compression are much greater than reductions of sympathetic activity during carotid stretch. Fourth, at rest, normal subjects operate near the threshold level for sympathetic excitation. Thus the carotid-muscle sympathetic baroreflex is poised to oppose reductions more effectively than elevations of arterial pressure, and the range of pressures over which the reflex is active is wider than thought hitherto.
- Copyright © 1987 the American Physiological Society