The objective of the present study was to determine the effect of vestibular stimulation on the sympathetic outflow to muscle in humans. Fourteen healthy volunteers were studied while in the supine position with electrocardiography, blood pressure monitoring and electro-oculography. The muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) was recorded directly from the bilateral tibial nerves by using microneurographic double recording technique. Caloric vestibular stimulation was loaded by alternate irrigation with 50 ml of cold (10°C) water and 50 ml of hot (44°C) water into the left and right external meatus. After cold water irrigation, two MSNA response peaks were elicited, respectively, before and after the maximum slow phase velocity (SPV) of nystagmus. The first peak of the MSNA enhancement was caused by non-specific factors because its time course coincided with that in cold pressor test with immersion of the subject's hand in ice/water (4°C). Transient suppression of MSNA after cold water irrigation in the period of maximum SPV of nystagmus was observed by cross correlogram analysis between the SPV of the nystagmus and MSNA. After hot water irrigation, only one MSNA response peak was elicited after the period of strong nystagmus. The second peak of MSNA enhancement evoked by cold irrigation (379.4 ± 221.8%, with the control value set as 100%, mean ± SE) was significantly higher than that evoked by hot irrigation (243.0 ± 14.5%). The degree of MSNA enhancement by either cold (the second peak) or hot stimulation was proportional to the maximum SPV of the nystagmus. There was no significant difference between the MSNA responses ipsilateral to and contralateral to the irrigated side. In conclusion, the caloric vestibular stimulation can influence the bilateral sympathetic outflow to muscle in humans. The degree of MSNA enhancement is proportional to the magnitude of vestibular excitement indicated by maximum slow phase velocity of the nystagmus.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology