Sympathetically-induced changes in microvascular cerebral blood flow and in the morphology of its low-frequency waves

Franca Deriu, Silvestro Roatta, Claudio Grassi, Rosa Urciuoli, Giuseppe Micieli, Magda Passatore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of bilateral cervical sympathetic nerve stimulation on microvascular cerebral blood flow, recorded at various depths in the parietal lobe and in ponto-mesencephalic areas, was investigated by laser-Doppler flowmetry in normotensive rabbits. These areas were chosen as representative of the vascular beds supplied by the carotid and vertebro-basilar systems, which exhibit different degrees of sympathetic innervation, the former being richer than the latter. Sympathetic stimulation at 30 imp/s affects cerebral blood flow in 77% of the parietal lobe and in 43% of the ponto-mesencephalic tested areas. In both cases the predominant effect was a reduction in flow (14.7 ± 5.1% and 4.1 ± 2.4%, respectively). The extent of the reduction in both areas was less if the stimulation frequency was decreased. Sometimes mean cerebral blood flow showed a small and transient increase, mainly in response to low-frequency stimulation. The morphology was analysed of low-frequency spontaneous oscillations in cerebral blood flow, attributed to vasomotion. Present in 41% of the tested areas (frequency 4-12 cycles/min, peak-to-peak amplitude 10-40% of mean value), these waves decreased in amplitude and increased in frequency during sympathetic stimulation, irrespective of changes in mean flow. The possibility has been proposed that the sympathetic action on low-frequency spontaneous oscillations may contribute to the protective influence that this system is known to exert on the blood-brain barrier in hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 10 1996


  • Cerebrovascular circulation
  • Laser-Doppler flowmetry
  • Microcirculation
  • Pulsatile flow
  • Regional blood flow
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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