Bone and Joint Institute

Role of aortic arch vascular mechanics in cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity

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American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology





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© 2016 the American Physiological Society. Cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (cvBRS) measures the efficiency of the cardiovagal baroreflex to modulate heart rate in response to increases or decreases in systolic blood pressure (SBP). Given that baroreceptors are located in the walls of the carotid sinuses (CS) and aortic arch (AA), the arterial mechanics of these sites are important contributors to cvBRS. However, the relative contribution of CS and AA mechanics to cvBRS remains unclear. This study employed sex differences as a model to test the hypothesis that differences in cvBRS between groups would be explained by the vascular mechanics of the AA but not the CS. Thirty-six young, healthy, normotensive individuals (18 females; 24 ± 2 yr) were recruited. cvBRS was measured using transfer function analysis of the low-frequency region (0.04–0.15 Hz). Ultrasonography was performed at the CS and AA to obtain arterial diameters for the measurement of distensibility. Local pulse pressure (PP) was taken at the CS using a hand-held tonometer, whereas AA PP was estimated using a transfer function of brachial PP. Both cvBRS (25 ± 11 vs. 19 ± 7 ms/mmHg, P = 0.04) and AA distensibility (16.5 ± 6.0 vs. 10.5 ± 3.8 mmHg-1 × 10-3, P = 0.02) were greater in females than males. Sex differences in cvBRS were eliminated after controlling for AA distensibility (P = 0.19). There were no sex differences in CS distensibility (5.32 ± 2.3 vs. 4.63 ± 1.3 mmHg-1 × 10-3, P = 0.32). The present data demonstrate that AA mechanics are an important contributor to differences in cvBRS.


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