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Nat Commun. 2017 May 18;8:15097. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15097.

Vagal determinants of exercise capacity.

Author information

1
Centre for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Neuroscience, Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.
2
UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, Division of Medicine, University College London, London WC1E 6DD, UK.
3
University College London Hospitals NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, London WC1E 6BT, UK.
4
Division of Medicine, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.
5
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK.
6
Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London EC1M 6BQ, UK.

Abstract

Indirect measures of cardiac vagal activity are strongly associated with exercise capacity, yet a causal relationship has not been established. Here we show that in rats, genetic silencing of the largest population of brainstem vagal preganglionic neurons residing in the brainstem's dorsal vagal motor nucleus dramatically impairs exercise capacity, while optogenetic recruitment of the same neuronal population enhances cardiac contractility and prolongs exercise endurance. These data provide direct experimental evidence that parasympathetic vagal drive generated by a defined CNS circuit determines the ability to exercise. Decreased activity and/or gradual loss of the identified neuronal cell group provides a neurophysiological basis for the progressive decline of exercise capacity with aging and in diverse disease states.

PMID:
28516907
PMCID:
PMC5454375
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms15097
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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