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Am J Physiol. 1993 Jun;264(6 Pt 2):H1836-46.

Pericardial mechanoreceptors with phrenic afferents.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.


Pericardial mechanoreceptors with afferents in the phrenic nerves were studied in anesthetized dogs. The specific aims determined 1) if pericardial receptors with phrenic afferents exist in the dog; 2) the stimuli needed to activate these receptors; 3) the anatomic distribution of these pericardial receptors; and 4) which pericardial layer contains the receptors. Afferent activity was recorded from the phrenic nerves while the pericardium was probed. In 15 of 18 animals, pericardial receptors were found on the right side. In 12 of 18 animals pericardial receptors were located on the left side. Most of the mechanoreceptors were found in a band that paralleled the pericardiophrenic attachment, in the fibrous layer of the pericardium, overlying the atria and atrioventricular grooves. Some receptors had a cardiac rhythm, whereas others were stimulated by the inflating lung. None of the receptors were chemosensitive to capsaicin, bradykinin, or saline. This study is the first to demonstrate that the pericardium of the dog contains mechanosensitive receptors which are innervated by the phrenic nerve.

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