The Circulatory Influences of Vagal Afferents at Rest and during Coronary Occlusion in Conscious Dogs

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We studied the role of cardiopulmonary vagal afferents in the cardiovascular responses to coronary artery occlusion in conscious dogs with intact carotid sinuses and following functional denervation of the arterial baroreceptors. The contributions of vagal afferents were determined by cold blocking the vagi. In dogs with intact carotid sinuses, coronary artery occlusion produced small decreases in mean cardiac output and arterial pressure, whereas heart rate increased by 35 beats/min. In dogs with intact carotid sinuses, vagal cold block increased mean arterial pressure by 22 ± 2 (mean ± SE) mm Hg and heart rate by 90 ± 6 beats/min. Mean cardiac output increased by 505 ± 90 ml/min. With the exception of heart rate, responses to coronary occlusion during vagal cold block were similar to the occlusion response prior to vagal cold block. Furthermore, prior occlusion of the coronary artery did not significantly influence the responses to vagal cold block. After arterial baroreceptor denervation, coronary artery occlusion resulted in a substantially greater fall in systemic arterial pressure (-52 mm Hg as compared to −8 mm Hg, with intact carotid sinuses) and peripheral resistance decreased by −0.49 peripheral resistance units (PRU). Vagal cold block following denervation increased the arterial pressure by 49 ± 10 mm Hg and peripheral resistance by 0.59 ± 0.13 PRU. Both values were significantly greater than those observed during vagal cold block prior to denervation. In arterial baroreceptor-denervated dogs, vagal blockade significantly attenuated the response to coronary occlusion. Therefore, in conscious dogs, vagal afferents from cardiopulmonary receptors exert a significant inhibitory influence on the peripheral vascular tone. When the carotid sinuses are intact, this inhibitory influence appears to be marked during myocardial ischemia. In the absence of functional arterial baroreflexes, vagal afferent activity contributes to the depressor responses observed during ischemia.

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