Information domain analysis of the spontaneous baroreflex during pharmacological challenges

Alberto Porta, Paolo Castiglioni, Marco Di Rienzo, Vlasta Bari, Tito Bassani, Andrea Marchi, Maddalena Alesssandra Wu, Andrei Cividjian, Luc Quintin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The information carried by heart period (HP) given systolic arterial pressure (SAP) changes was assessed to characterize spontaneous baroreflex (i.e. the relation linking SAP variability to HP variability): the larger the information carried by HP given SAP changes, the greater the unpredictability of HP given SAP variations, the smaller the strength of the causal coupling from SAP series to HP series. It was typified according to two parameters: i) the information carried by HP given SAP changes within the same heart cycle (i.e. 0-step-ahead information) describing immediate effects of SAP variations on HP; ii) the rate of increase of the information carried by HP given SAP changes as a function of the temporal distance, k, between the conditioning SAP pattern and future HP value (i.e. the rate of increase of k-step-ahead information with k) describing short-term effects of SAP modifications on HP. Both parameters were found under vagal control. Indeed, i) 0-step-ahead information suggested that HP and SAP variabilities were significantly coupled from SAP to HP at baseline and after the reduction of the inhibitory effect of sympathetic control on vagal influences performed through the administration of propranolol or clonidine; and ii) during vagal blockade induced by atropine or combined vagal and sympathetic blockade induced by the administration of propranolol after atropine k-step-ahead information reached a level incompatible with coupled HP and SAP dynamics regardless of k. In addition, it was found that the 0-step-ahead information at baseline and after propranolol and the rate of increase of k-step-ahead information with k at baseline could be exclusively explained in terms of linear HP-SAP interactions. Conversely, the same parameters after clonidine suggested the raise of nonlinear mechanisms probably unveiled by the central sympathetic blockade. Comparison with more traditional parameters describing the HP-SAP variability relation such as baroreflex sensitivity and squared HP-SAP coherence confirmed the complementary value of the proposed information domain analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-75
Number of pages9
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Baroreflex
  • Cardiovascular control
  • Cross-conditional entropy
  • Heart rate variability
  • Information domain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


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