Influences of neural mechanisms on heart period and arterial pressure variabilities in quadriplegic patients

S. Guzzetti, C. Cogliati, C. Broggi, C. Carozzi, D. Caldiroli, F. Lombardi, A. Malliani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The heart period (R-R) variability power spectrum presents two components, at low (LF; ~0.10 Hz) and high (~0.25 Hz) frequencies, whose reciprocal powers appear to furnish an index of sympathovagal interaction modulating heart rate. In addition, the LF component of the systolic arterial pressure variability spectrum furnishes a marker of sympathetic modulation of vasomotor activity. The contribution of spinal and supraspinal neural circuits to the genesis of these rhythmic oscillatory components remains largely unsettled. Therefore we performed spectral analysis of R-R and systolic arterial pressure variabilities in 15 chronic neurologically complete quadriplegic patients (QP) and in 15 control subjects during resting conditions, controlled respiration, and head-up tilt. At rest, in seven QP the LF component was undetectable in both cardiovascular variability spectra; in two QP this component was present only in R-R variability spectrum, whereas the remaining six showed a significantly reduced LF in both signals. In QP, the LF component, when present, underwent paradoxical changes with respect to controls, decreasing during tilt and increasing during controlled respiration. In five QP in whom the recording session was repeated after 6 mo, a significant increase in LF was observed in both variability spectra. These data confirm the finding that a disconnection of sympathetic outflow from supraspinal centers can cause the disappearance of the LF spectral component. However, LF presence in some QP supports the hypothesis of a spinal rhythmicity likely to be modulated by the afferent sympathetic activity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3 35-3
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • power spectral analysis
  • spinal rhythmicity
  • sympathovagal balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Physiology


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