Both central command and exercise pressor reflex activate cardiac sympathetic nerve activity in decerebrate cats

Hirotsugu Tsuchimochi, Shawn G. Hayes, Jennifer L. McCord, Marc P Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Both static and dynamic exercise are known to increase cardiac pump function as well as arterial blood pressure. Feedforward control by central command and feedback control by the exercise pressor reflex are thought to be the neural mechanisms causing these effects during exercise. It remains unknown as to how each mechanism activates cardiac sympathetic nerve activity (CSNA) during exercise, especially at its onset. Thus we examined the response of CSNA to stimulation of the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR, i.e., central command) and to static muscle contraction of the triceps surae muscles or stretch of the calcaneal tendon in decerebrate cats. We found that MLR stimulation immediately increased CSNA, which was followed by a gradual increase in heart rate, mean arterial pressure, and ventral root activity in a stimulus intensity-dependent manner. The latency of the increase in CSNA from the onset of MLR stimulation ranged from 67 to 387 ms. Both static contraction and tendon stretch also rapidly increased CSNA. Their latency from the development of tension in response to ventral root stimulation ranged from 78 to 670 ms. These findings suggest that both central command and the muscle mechanoreflex play a role in controlling cardiac sympathetic outflow at the onset of exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Group III and IV afferents
  • Mechanoreflex
  • Renal sympathetic nerve activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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