Lower-limb venous distension reflex and orthostatic tolerance in young healthy humans

Jian Cui, Cheryl Blaha, Michael D. Herr, Lawrence I. Sinoway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Earlier reports suggest that limb venous distension evokes reflex increases in muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and blood pressure (BP) (i.e., venous distension reflex). Our recent report also shows that suction of arterially occluded limb evokes venous distension reflex. We postulate that the venous distension reflex contributes to autonomic responses to orthostatic stress. In this study, we hypothesized that orthostatic tolerance would be linked to the MSNA response seen with lower limb suction. Fifteen healthy subjects were tested in the supine position. Negative pressure (‑100 mmHg) was applied on an arterially occluded lower limb for 2 min. MSNA from the peroneal nerve in the limb not exposed to suction, ECG, and BP (Finometer) was recorded throughout the study. Limb occlusion without suction was used as a control trial. In a separate visit, the individual’s orthostatic tolerance was assessed using a graded lower body negative pressure (LBNP) tolerance test. Mean arterial BP and MSNA (18.6 ± 1.9 to 23.6 ± 2.0 bursts/min) significantly (both P <0.05) increased during limb suction. Orthostatic tolerance index positively correlated (R = 0.636, P = 0.011) with the MSNA response seen with suction during occlusion. Since the venous distension reflex strength correlates with the level of orthostatic tolerance, we speculate that lower-limb venous distension reflex engagement increases the sympathetic responses during orthostatic challenge and serves to maintain BP with postural stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R142-R147
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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