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Pyramidal control of heart rate and arterial pressure in cats.

H. Sequeira, S. Ba-M Hamed


The pyramidal control of the heart rate (HR) and the arterial pressure (AP) was investigated in the cat. Experiments were conducted in order to determine relative contribution of vagal and sympathetic components to this control. In eighteen anesthetized and curarized cats, electrical stimulations were applied to the pyramidal tract (PT), followed by pharmacological blockade of the sympathetic cardiac control or by bivagotomy. HR and mean arterial pressure (MAP) were recorded in response to pyramidal stimulations before and after bulbar transections sparing only the PT, beta 1-blockade by atenolol administration and/or bilateral vagotomy. Results showed that the stimulation of the PT elicits significant cardiac accelerations and MAP increases in all animals. Furthermore, bulbar transections allowed to conclude that pyramidal influences acted at bulbar level and not on spinal cardiovascular neurons. After beta 1-blockade by atenolol, HR increases were reduced by about 70% and those of MAP by about 30%; after bilateral vagotomy, cardioaccelerations were reduced by about 30% but no significant reductions of MAP were observed; finally, beta 1-blockade combined with vagal section suppressed cardioaccelerations and significantly reduced the MAP increases. These results suggest the existence of a direct cortical control, via the pyramidal tract, to cardiovascular centers of the medulla, probably mediated by pyramidal collaterals. This control appears to be organized following a reciprocal autonomic pattern where the suppression of the vagal inhibition is associated with a concomitant sympathetic excitation. The present work also provides data in favour of a central command coupling somatic programs and cardiac adjustments during motor acts.

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