Power spectrum analysis of cardiovascular variability monitored by telemetry in conscious unrestrained rats

R. Rubini, A. Porta, G. Baselli, S. Cerutti, M. Paro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Beat-to-beat variability of arterial pressure and heart period (R-R) was studied in eight conscious freely-moving adult male rats in which telemetric recordings of arterial pressure. ECG and respiratory movements were obtained under unrestrained and unstressed conditions. The beat-to-beat time series of these signals (systolic arterial pressure, diastolic arterial pressure and R-R) were analyzed, in the frequency domain, using autoregressive spectral analysis in order to detect and quantify the rhythmic components. In basal conditions, the systolic arterial pressure variability spectrum was characterized by three major spectral components which had central frequencies respectively of 0.08 ± 0.03 Hz (very low frequency), 0.43 ± 0.02 Hz (low frequency) and 1.36 ± 0.19 Hz (high frequency). Similar rhythmic components were found in R-R signal variability. The very low frequency component included a higher percentage of total power in R-R variability spectrum (75.3%) than in systolic arterial pressure variability spectrum (58.4%). The low frequency component was more pronounced in both systolic and diastolic arterial pressure variability spectra. The high frequency component of R-R, systolic and diastolic arterial pressure was synchronous with respiration. Cross-spectral analysis revealed a high statistical coherence between R-R and arterial pressure variabilities in all the three frequency bands. An α-adrenergic blocker (phentolamine) specifically abolished the low frequency components of systolic and diastolic arterial pressure variability spectra, thus suggesting that low frequency is a marker of sympathetic modulation of vasomotor activity. The low frequency component of R-R variability spectrum was also markedly blunted. We suggest that cardiovascular variability signals, (R-R, systolic and diastolic arterial pressure) are composed almost of two main rhythms linked to respiration and vasomotor activity. These rhythms can be quantified in conscious unrestrained rats by using telemetry and spectral analysis. This approach seems to offer a new powerful tool for pharmacological studies in conscious small animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1993



  • Autoregressive spectral analysis
  • Blood pressure variability
  • Conscious rat
  • Heart rate variability
  • Respiratory activity
  • Telemetry
  • Vasomotor activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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