Detecting activation of the sympatho-adrenal axis from haemodynamic recordings, in conscious rabbits exposed to acute stress

S Roatta, Mazher Mohammed, M Passatore

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims: When assessing sympathetic activation in acute stress, the attention is often limited to the sympatho-neural axis, whereas sympatho-adrenal activation, that can only be detected with poor time resolution from the concentration of plasma catecholamines, is often neglected. This study is aimed at reinvestigating the role and the relevance of the sympatho-adrenal system in acute stress based on the analysis of haemodynamic responses in conscious rabbits. Methods: Experiments were carried out on 19 rabbits implanted with chronic probes for arterial blood pressure and for blood flow in the facial artery. Cardiovascular responses to a randomized sequence of acute stressors (pinprick, air jet, oscillation of the cage, inhalation of formaldehyde vapours and im injection of hypertonic saline) were recorded before and after α-adrenergic blockade (phentolamine) and unilateral section of the cervical sympathetic trunk (decentralization). Plasma catecholamine concentrations were analysed in four animals. Results: All stressors induced an increase in arterial blood pressure and a reduction of vascular conductance in the facial artery ranging on average from 24% (pinprick) to 55% (box oscillation). Such vasoconstrictor response was abolished by phentolamine. In decentralized arteries, the vasoconstriction was delayed by 10-15s and decreased in magnitude in a stressor-dependent way, indicating an adrenaline-mediated effect in the late phase of the stress response that was confirmed by changes in plasma adrenaline concentration. Conclusions: In conscious rabbits, rapid release of adrenaline makes a prominent contribution to vasoconstriction in response to different stressors including box oscillation, muscle pain and air jet but not the nasopharyngeal stimulation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)323-337
    Number of pages15
    JournalActa Physiologica Scandinavica
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


    • Acute stress
    • Adrenaline
    • Blood flow
    • Oro-facial area
    • Sympathetic nervous system
    • Vascular conductance


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