Aldosterone impairs baroreflex sensitivity in healthy adults

Kevin D. Monahan, Urs A. Leuenberger, Chester A. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Animal studies suggest that acute and chronic aldosterone administration impairs baroreceptor/baroreflex responses. We tested the hypothesis that aldosterone impairs baroreflex control of cardiac period [cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (BRS)] and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA, sympathetic BRS) in humans. Twenty-six young (25 ± 1 yr old, mean ± SE) adults were examined in this study. BRS was determined by using the modified Oxford technique (bolus infusion of nitroprusside, followed 60 s later by bolus infusion of phenylephrine) in triplicate before (Pre) and 30-min after (Post) beginning aldosterone (experimental, 12 pmol·kg -1·min-1; n = 10 subjects) or saline infusion (control; n = 10). BRS was quantified from the R-R interval-systolic blood pressure (BP) (cardiovagal BRS) and MSNA-diastolic BP (sympathetic BRS) relations. Aldosterone infusion increased serum aldosterone levels approximately fourfold (P < 0.05) and decreased (P < 0.05) cardiovagal (19.0 ± 2.3 vs. 15.6 ± 1.7 ms/mmHg Pre and Post, respectively) and sympathetic BRS [-4.4 ± 0.4 vs. -3.0 ± 0.4 arbitrary units (AU)·beat-1·mmHg-1]. In contrast, neither cardiovagal (19.3 ± 3.3 vs. 20.2 ± 3.3 ms/mmHg) nor sympathetic BRS (-3.8 ± 0.5 vs. -3.6 ± 0.5 AU·beat -1·mmHg-1) were altered (Pre vs. Post) in the control group. BP, heart rate, and MSNA at rest were similar in experimental and control subjects before and after the intervention. Additionally, neural and cardiovascular responses to a cold pressor test and isometric handgrip to fatigue were unaffected by aldosterone infusion (n = 6 subjects). These data provide direct experimental support for the concept that aldosterone impairs baroreflex function (cardiovagal and sympathetic BRS) in humans. Therefore, aldosterone may be an important determinant/modulator of baroreflex function in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H190-H197
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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