Pupillary and cardiovascular responses to the cold-pressor test

Cristina Tassorelli, Giuseppe Micieli, Vera Osipova, Francesco Rossi, Giuseppe Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is known about the structures and mechanisms involved in the autonomic response to sensory and nociceptive stimulation. In this study, we recorded simultaneously pupil diameter, blood pressure, heart rate and pain levels during a cold-pressor test in 10 healthy subjects. The aim was to evaluate the different components of the Autonomic Nervous System involved in the response to a thermal-painful stimulus. A biphasic pupillary response was observed: an initial, short-lasting mydriasis, followed by a miotic phase, this latter characterized by rhythmic fluctuations of pupil diameter. The blood pressure response was monophasic with a moderate increase observed from the second minute of the test. Pain intensities remained stable on medium-high levels throughout the test. The topical application of thymoxamine and homatropine clarified some aspects of the pupillary response. The systemic administration of naloxone suggested a role of opiates in the modulation of pupillary and cardiovascular response to the cold-pressor test.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-49
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 5 1995


  • Cardiovascular response
  • Opiate
  • Pain
  • Pupil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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