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J Physiol. 1992;453:45-58.

Simultaneous measurements of cardiac noradrenaline spillover and sympathetic outflow to skeletal muscle in humans.

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Baker Medical Research Institute, Prahran, Victoria, Australia.


1. Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSA) was recorded in the peroneal nerve at the knee by microneurography in ten healthy subjects and determinations were made simultaneously of intra-arterial blood pressure, and whole-body and cardiac noradrenaline spillover to plasma. Measurements were made at rest, during isometric handgrip at 30% of maximum power and during stress induced by forced mental arithmetic. 2. At rest there were significant positive correlations between spontaneous MSA (expressed as number of sympathetic bursts min-1) and both spillover of noradrenaline from the heart and concentration of noradrenaline in coronary sinus venous plasma. 3. Both isometric handgrip and mental arithmetic led to sustained increases of blood pressure, heart rate and MSA. Plasma concentrations of noradrenaline and spillover of noradrenaline (total body and cardiac) increased. In general the effects were more pronounced during handgrip than during stress. 4. When comparing effects during handgrip and stress the ratio between the fractional increases of MSA and cardiac noradrenaline spillover were significantly greater during handgrip. 5. The data suggest (a) that there are proportional interindividual differences in the strength of resting sympathetic activity to heart and skeletal muscle which are determined by a common mechanism and (b) that handgrip and mental stress are associated with differences in balance between sympathetic outflows to heart and skeletal muscle.

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