Onset of exercise increases lumbar sympathetic nerve activity in rats

Stephen E. DiCarlo, Chao-Yin Chen, Heidi L. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We hypothesized that lumbar sympathetic nerve activity (LSNA) increases at the onset of whole-body dynamic exercise in the rat. To test this hypothesis, we recorded LSNA, heart rate (HR), and arterial pressure (AP) at rest and during a graded exercise test in six adult rats. Rats were instrumented with arterial and venous catheters and recording electrodes around the lumbar sympathetic trunk. Following recovery, each rat ran continuously on a hand- driven or motorized treadmill at 6 m·min-1, 12 m·min-1, and 18 m-min- 1 on a 10% grade for approximately 3 min at each workload. Before exercise, mean arterial pressure (MAP), HR, and LSNA averaged 108 ± 4 mm Hg, 385 ± 20 bpm, and 100%, respectively. As hypothesized, all variables increased abruptly and dramatically at the onset of treadmill exercise. For example, MAP (117 ± 5 mm Hg), HR (450 ± 15 bpm), and LSNA (225 ± 19%) all increased significantly within the first 25 s of treadmill running at 6 m·min-1. As the exercise continued, there was a progressive increase in HR; however, MAP plateaued at 6 m·min-1 and LSNA plateaued at 12 m·min-1. Since LSNA increased at the onset of whole-body dynamic exercise in the rat, we suggest that the increase in LSNA at the onset of exercise is mediated by a central (feed forward) mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-684
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1996
Externally publishedYes



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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