A murine model of the exercise pressor reflex

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Key points: The decerebrate mouse provides a novel working model of the exercise pressor reflex (EPR). The decerebrate mouse model of the EPR is similar to the previously described decerebrate rat model. Studying the EPR in transgenic mouse models can define exact mechanisms of the EPR in health and disease. Abstract: The exercise pressor reflex (EPR) is defined by a rise in mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR) in response to exercise and is necessary to match metabolic demand and prevent premature fatigue. While this reflex is readily tested in humans, mechanistic studies are largely infeasible. Here, we have developed a novel murine model of the EPR to allow for mechanistic studies in various mouse models. We observed that ventral root stimulation (VRS) in an anaesthetized mouse causes a depressor response and a reduction in HR. In contrast, the same stimulation in a decerebrate mouse causes a rise in MAP and HR which is abolished by dorsal rhizotomy or by neuromuscular blockade. Moreover, we demonstrate a reduced MAP response to VRS using TRPV1 antagonism or in Trpv1 null mice while the response to passive stretch remains intact. Additionally, we demonstrate that intra-arterial infusion of capsaicin results in a dose-related rise in MAP and HR that is significantly reduced by a selective and potent TRPV1 antagonist or is completely abolished in Trpv1 null mice. These data serve to validate the development of a decerebrate mouse model for the study of cardiovascular responses to exercise and further define the role of the TRPV1 receptor in mediating the EPR. This novel model will allow for extensive study of the EPR in unlimited transgenic and mutant mouse lines, and for an unprecedented exploration of the molecular mechanisms that control cardiovascular responses to exercise in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3155-3171
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2020 The Physiological Society


  • TrpV1 null
  • blood pressure
  • exercise
  • mouse


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