Effect of cardiac vagal and sympathetic nerve activity on heart rate in rhythmic fluctuations

Kiyomi Koizumi, Naohito Terui, Mark Kollai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

137 Citations (Scopus)


Beat-to-beat changes observed in cardiac vagal and sympathetic nerve activity and their effects on cardiac cycle length were studied during slow wave blood pressure and heart rate fluctuations (third order rhythm) and during respiratory sinus arrhythmia. Recordings were made from both nerves simultaneously in chloralose anesthetized and artificially ventilated dogs. During slow wave fluctuations in heart rate, a linear relationship was found to exist between the number of spikes per pulse interval recorded from vagal and sympathetic nerves and the length of pulse intervals. During respiratory sinus arrhythmia the time course of rhythmic changes in nerve activity and in cardiac cycle length was analyzed. Comparison of time courses indicated that vagal discharges affected the timing of not the following beat, but the one after; while the sympathetic effect was further delayed, affecting the third beat after the discharge. Baroreceptor stimulation, which resulted in lengthening the cardiac cycle, shifted this relationship by one cycle, i.e. vagal discharges affecting the occurrence of the following beat, while sympathetic discharges affecting the beat after. These results provide evidence for the conclusion that in dogs both vagal and symphathetic nerve activity contribute to the control of cardiac cycle length, however, with different time relations and effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-259
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1985


  • cardiac control
  • cardiac cycle length
  • cardiac sympathetic nerve
  • cardiac vagus nerve
  • pulse intervals
  • respiratory sinus arrhythmia
  • rhythmic fluctuations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology

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