We have recently shown that a saline infusion in the veins of an arterially occluded human forearm evokes a systemic response with increases in muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and blood pressure. In this report, we examined whether this response was a reflex that was due to venous distension. Blood pressure (Finometer), heart rate, and MSNA (microneurography) were assessed in 14 young healthy subjects. In the saline trial (n = 14), 5% forearm volume normal saline was infused in an arterially occluded arm. To block afferents in the limb, 90 mg of lidocaine were added to the same volume of saline in six subjects during a separate visit. To examine whether interstitial perfusion of normal saline alone induced the responses, the same volume of albumin solution (5% concentration) was infused in 11 subjects in separate studies. Lidocaine abolished the MSNA and blood pressure responses seen with saline infusion. Moreover, compared with the saline infusion, an albumin infusion induced a larger (MSNA: Δ14.3 ± 2.7 vs. Δ8.5 ± 1.3 bursts/min, P < 0.01) and more sustained MSNA and blood pressure responses. These data suggest that venous distension activates afferent nerves and evokes a powerful systemic sympathoexcitatory reflex. We posit that the venous distension plays an important role in evoking the autonomic adjustments seen with postural stress in human subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H457-H463
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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