Synchronous and baroceptor-sensitive oscillations in skin microcirculation: Evidence for central autonomic control

Luciano Bernardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To determine whether skin blood flow is local or takes part in general regulatory mechanisms, we recorded laser-Doppler flowmetry (LDF; left and right index fingers), blood pressure, muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), R-R interval, and respiration in 10 healthy volunteers and 3 subjects after sympathectomy. We evaluated 1) the synchronism of LDF fluctuations in two index fingers, 2) the relationship with autonomically mediated fluctuations in other signals, and 3) the LDF ability to respond to arterial baroreflex stimulation (by neck suction at frequencies from 0.02 to 0.20 Hz), using spectral analysis (autoregressive uni- and bivariate, time-variant algorithms). Synchronous LDF fluctuations were observed in the index fingers of healthy subjects but not in sympathectomized patients. LDF fluctuations were coherent with those obtained for blood pressure, MSNA, and R-R interval. LDF fluctuations were leading blood pressure in the low-frequency (LF; 0.1 Hz) band and lagging in the respiratory, high-frequency (HF; ~0.25 Hz) band, suggesting passive 'downstream' transmission only for HF and 'upstream' transmission for LF from the microvessels. LDF fluctuations were responsive to sinusoidal neck suction up to 0.1 Hz, indicating response to sympathetic modulation. Skin blood flow thus reflects modifications determined by autonomic activity, detectable by frequency analysis of spontaneous fluctuations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4 42-4
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Arterial baroreflexes
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Heart rate variability
  • Microcirculation
  • Skin blood flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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