The influence of the carotid baroreflex on dynamic regulation of cerebral blood flow and cerebral tissue oxygenation in humans at rest and during exercise

Abstract

Purpose

This preliminary study tested the hypothesis that the carotid baroreflex (CBR) mediated sympathoexcitation regulates cerebral blood flow (CBF) at rest and during dynamic exercise.

Methods

In seven healthy subjects (26 ± 1 years), oscillatory neck pressure (NP) stimuli of + 40 mmHg were applied to the carotid baroreceptors at a pre-determined frequency of 0.1 Hz at rest, low (10 ± 1W), and heavy (30 ± 3W) exercise workloads (WLs) without (control) and with α − 1 adrenoreceptor blockade (prazosin). Spectral power analysis of the mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), mean middle cerebral artery blood velocity (MCAV), and cerebral tissue oxygenation index (ScO2) in the low-frequency range (0.07–0.20 Hz) was estimated to examine NP stimuli responses.

Results

From rest to heavy exercise, WLs resulted in a greater than three-fold increase in MCAV power (42 ± 23.8–145.2 ± 78, p < 0.01) and an almost three-fold increase in ScO2 power (0.51 ± 0.3–1.53 ± 0.8, p = 0.01), even though there were no changes in MAP power (from 24.5 ± 21 to 22.9 ± 11.9) with NP stimuli. With prazosin, the overall MAP (p = 0.0017), MCAV (p = 0.019), and ScO2 (p = 0.049) power was blunted regardless of the exercise conditions. Prazosin blockade resulted in increases in the Tf gain index between MAP and MCAV compared to the control (p = 0.03).

Conclusion

CBR-mediated changes in sympathetic activity contribute to dynamic regulation of the cerebral vasculature and CBF at rest and during dynamic exercise in humans.

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Abbreviations

ANOVA:

Analysis of variance

CBF:

Cerebral blood flow

CBR:

Carotid baroreflex

HR:

Heart rate

LF:

Low frequency

MAP:

Mean arterial pressure

MCAV:

Middle cerebral artery blood velocity

NIRS:

Near-infrared spectroscopy

NP:

Neck pressure

SCO2 :

Cerebral tissue oxygenation

SD:

Standard deviation

PSD:

Power spectral density

TCD:

Transcranial Doppler

TF:

Transfer function

WL:

Workload

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Funding

This study was supported in part by funds provided by the Cardiovascular Research Institute and the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, TX. The authors also wish to thank the subjects for volunteering to undertake the study.

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Authors

Contributions

Conception and design of research: SP and PBR. Data collection and analyses: SP, KM, XZ, RZ, and PBR. Manuscript was drafted by SP, KM, XZ, RZ, and PBR. All authors contributed to data interpretation, editing, and revision of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sushmita Purkayastha.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Communicated by I. Mark Olfert.

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Purkayastha, S., Maffuid, K., Zhu, X. et al. The influence of the carotid baroreflex on dynamic regulation of cerebral blood flow and cerebral tissue oxygenation in humans at rest and during exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol 118, 959–969 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-018-3831-1

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Keywords

  • Cerebral blood vessels
  • Cerebral tissue oxygenation
  • Dynamic exercise
  • Power spectral density
  • Sympathetic activity
  • Transfer function gain