Author(s): Fagius J, Karhuvaara S, Sundlf G
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Abstract Micro-electrode multi-unit recordings of muscle nerve sympathetic activity (MSA) involved in cardiovascular homeostasis or skin nerve sympathetic activity (SSA) involved in thermoregulation were made in the right peroneal nerve of 48 healthy volunteers during performance of the cold pressor test, i.e. immersion of one hand in ice water (2 +/- 0.5 degrees C) for 1 min. Eleven subjects underwent the same procedure on a second MSA recording occasion. As a rule, immersion evoked an increase in MSA, with a gradual decrease on emersion. The response showed a wide range of variation between and within subjects; the intra-individual difference between first and second immersion on the same recording occasion was up to sevenfold, and from first to second recording up to fivefold. The increase in MSA correlated with the degree of discomfort from the ice water. In nine subjects with a large increase in MSA on ice water immersion, intracutaneous painful electrical stimulation to a level equalling the discomfort from the ice water was added, but it was not accompanied by any change in MSA. The increase in MSA was accompanied by and correlated quite well with an increase in blood pressure. Intra-arterial blood pressure recordings showed that MSA occurred at pressure levels normally associated with total inhibition of MSA, and that an inverse linear relationship between diastolic blood pressure and MSA at rest was abolished during the ice water immersion. SSA showed no consistent change with ice water immersion. It is concluded that the cold pressor test is a powerful activator of MSA, i.e. baroreceptor-governed vasoconstrictor outflow; that MSA contributes to the blood pressure elevation with this manoeuvre; that MSA operates at another blood pressure level during the manoeuvre and that the baroreflex inhibitory level consequently is changed; and that the response is not a reaction to pain only.
This article was published in Acta Physiol Scand
and referenced in Journal of Hypertension: Open Access