Two neural mechanisms contribute to the cardiovascular responses to exercise. The first, central command, proposes a parallel activation of central locomotor and brain stem circuits controlling cardiovascular function. The second, the muscle reflex, proposes that contraction-activated group III and IV afferents increase cardiovascular function. In humans, whole nerve recordings of sympathetic discharge suggest that central command increases sympathetic outflow to skin but not to skeletal muscle and that the muscle reflex increases sympathetic outflow to skeletal muscle but not to skin. We therefore tested the hypothesis that the muscle reflex, trot not central command, increases the discharge of single sympathetic postganglionic efferents innervating the triceps surae muscles of decerebrate unanesthetized cats. Central command was evoked by electrical stimulation of the mesencephalic locomotor region. The reflex was evoked by electrical stimulation of the tibial nerve, which in turn contracted the triceps surae muscles. Hexamethonium abolished spontaneous and evoked activity, verifying that the recordings were from sympathetic postganglionic fibers. The discharge of 13 efferents was increased by static contraction (from 0.6 ± 0.2 to 1.0 ± 0.3 imp/s; P < 0.05) but was not increased by central command (from 0.6 ± 0.2 to 0.8 ± 0.2 imp/s; P > 0.05). Nevertheless, the discharge of nine efferents, not increased by central command before α-adrenergic blockade (from 0.5 ± 0.2 to 0.9 ± 0.4 imp/s; P > 0.05), was increased after blockade (from 1.3 ± 0.2 to 3.2 ± 0.8 imp/s; P < 0.05). We conclude that the muscle reflex stimulates sympathetic postganglionic efferents innervating the vasculature of skeletal muscle. Furthermore, baroreceptors appear to buffer the central command-induced increases in the discharge of these efferents.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology|
|Issue number||1 40-1|
|State||Published - Jul 1 1996|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)