Cardiopulmonary baroreceptor control of muscle sympathetic nerve activity in heat-stressed humans

C. G. Crandall, R. A. Etzel, D. B. Farr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Whole body heating decreases central venous pressure (CVP) while increasing muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA). In normothermia, similar decreases in CVP elevate MSNA, presumably via cardiopulmonary baroreceptor unloading. The purpose of this project was to identify whether increases in MSNA during whole body heating could be attributed to cardiopulmonary baroreceptor unloading coincident with the thermal challenge. Seven subjects were exposed to whole body heating while sublingual temperature, skin blood flow, heart rate, arterial blood pressure, and MSNA were monitored. During the heat stress, 15 ml/kg warmed saline was infused intravenously over 7-10 min to increase CVP and load the cardiopulmonary baroreceptors. We reported previously that this amount of saline was sufficient to return CVP to pre- heat stress levels. Whole body heating increased MSNA from 25 ± 3 to 39 ± 3 bursts/min (P < 0.05). Central blood volume expansion via rapid saline infusion did not significantly decrease MSNA (44 ± 4 bursts/min, P > 0.05 relative to heat stress period) and did not alter mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) or pulse pressure. To identify whether arterial baroreceptor loading decreases MSNA during heat stress, in a separate protocol MAP was elevated via steady-state infusion of phenylephrine during whole body heating. Increasing MAP from 82 ± 3 to 93 ± 4 mmHg (P < 0.05) caused MSNA to decrease from 36 ± 3 to 15 ± 4 bursts/min (P < 0.05). These data suggest that cardiopulmonary baroreceptor unloading during passive heating is not the primary mechanism resulting in elevations in MSNA. Moreover, arterial baroreceptors remain capable of modulating MSNA during heat stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2348-H2352
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6 46-6
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Baroreflex
  • Hyperthermia
  • Sinoaortic baroreceptors
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Whole body heating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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