Animal studies have shown that the increased intravenous pressure stimulates the group III and IV muscle afferent fibres, and in turn induce cardiovascular responses. However, this pathway of autonomic regulation has not been examined in humans. The aim of this study was to examine the hypothesis that infusion of saline into the venous circulation of an arterially occluded vascular bed evokes sympathetic activation in healthy individuals. Blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) responses were assessed in 19 young healthy subjects during local infusion of 40 ml saline into a forearm vein in the circulatory arrested condition. From baseline (11.8 ± 1.2 bursts min-1), MSNA increased significantly during the saline infusion (22.5 ± 2.6 bursts min-1, P < 0.001). Blood pressure also increased significantly during the saline infusion. Three control trials were performed during separate visits. The results from the control trial show that the observed MSNA and blood pressure responses were not due to muscle ischaemia. The present data show that saline infusion into the venous circulation of an arterially occluded vascular bed induces sympathetic activation and an increase in blood pressure. We speculate that the infusion under such conditions stimulates the afferent endings near the vessels, and evokes the sympathetic activation.
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