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Clin Auton Res. 1998 Aug;8(4):201-5.

Mechanoreceptors and autonomic responses to movement in humans.

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College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Mechanoreceptor contribution to efferent autonomic outflow is incompletely understood. To determine the effects of mechanoreceptor stimulation on autonomic reflexes, we compared autonomic responses in 34 subjects using a cross-over, counter-balanced design, in which hemodynamic, electromyographic, metabolic, and autonomic data were gathered during rest, passive, and active movement protocols. Because metaboreceptors and ventilatory responses influence autonomic outflow we verified and controlled for these influences during all protocols through comparisons of breath-by-breath gas exchange measurements. Verification of active and passive movements was made via electromyographic recordings of the moving legs. Spectral analysis of R-R variability was used to assess autonomic activity, and low to high frequency ratios were considered representative of sympathovagal balance. A repeated measures analysis of variance revealed significant modulating effects of mechanoreceptor stimulation on sympathovagal balance during passive movement upon efferent autonomic outflow (p < 0.01) independent of central command, chemoreceptor, and metaboreceptor stimulation. Furthermore, breathing frequency and volume were identical for both movement protocols. Therefore, findings in this investigation suggest that modulating influences are being exerted by mechanoreceptor stimulation on autonomic outflow to the heart.

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