Function of human intrinsic cardiac neurons in situ

Rakesh Christopher Arora, Gregory Matthew Hirsch, Kristine Johnson Hirsch, Camille Hancock Friesen, John Andrew Armour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We sought to determine the behavior of intrinsic cardiac neurons in human subjects undergoing cardiac surgery and to correlate their activity with hemodynamics status. A lead II electrocardiogram, pulmonary artery pressure, and systemic arterial pressure were recorded along with extracellular activity generated by right atrial neurons in 10 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. Identified neurons generated spontaneously activity that was, for the most part, unrelated to the cardiac cycle. Most neurons were activated by gentle mechanical distortion of ventricular epicardial loci. The activity generated by neurons in each patient increased when arterial pressure increased and decreased when arterial pressure fell. Intrinsic cardiac neurons continued to generate activity during cardioplegia and cardiopulmonary bypass, but at reduced levels. Normal neuronal activity was restored postbypass. It is concluded that human intrinsic cardiac neurons generate spontaneous activity and that many receive inputs from ventricular mechanosensory neurites. The latter may account for the fact that their behavior depends, in part, on cardiac dynamics. They are also sensitive to intravenously administered pharmacological agents. These data also indicate that cardiopulmonary bypass and cardioplegia do not induce residual depression of their function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1736-R1740
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 49-6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Cardiac mechanosensory neurites
  • Cardioplegia
  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • α-adrenoceptor agonist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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