Chronic heart failure: a disease of the brain

Ram B. Singh, Krasimira Hristova, Jan Fedacko, Galal El-Kilany, Germaine G Cornelissen-Guillaume

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The underlying mechanism for clinical and biochemical manifestations of chronic heart failure (HF) may be due in part to neurohumoral adaptations, such as activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone and sympathetic nervous systems in the periphery and the brain. Internet search and discussion with colleagues are the methods for this study. Since chronic HF is associated with autonomic imbalance with increased sympathetic nerve activity and a withdrawal of parasympathetic activity, it may be considered a brain disease. This phenomenon may be the result of an increased systemic and cerebral angiotensin II signaling because plasma angiotensin II is increased in humans and animals with chronic HF. The increase in angiotensin II signaling enhances sympathetic nerve activity through actions on both central and peripheral sites during chronic HF. Activation of angiotensin II signaling in different brain sites such as the paraventricular nucleus (PVN), rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), and area postrema (AP) may increase the release of norepinephrine, oxidative stress, and inflammation leading to increased cardiac contractility. It is possible that blocking angiotensin II type 1 receptors decreases sympathetic nerve activity and cardiac sympathetic afferent reflex when therapy is administered to the PVN. The administration of an angiotensin receptor blocker by injection into the AP activates the sympatho-inhibitory baroreflex indicating that receptor blockers act by increasing parasympathetic activity. In chronic HF, in peripheral regions, angiotensin II elevates both norepinephrine release and synthesis and inhibits norepinephrine uptake at nerve endings, which may contribute to the increase in sympathetic nerve activity. Increased circulating angiotensin II during chronic HF may enhance the sympatho-excitatory chemoreflex and inhibit the sympatho-inhibitory baroreflex resulting in worsening of HF. Increased circulating angiotensin II signaling can directly act on the central nervous system via the subfornical organ and the AP to increase sympathetic outflow resulting in to neurohumoral dysfunction, resulting in to heart failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalHeart Failure Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Brain-heart interactions
  • Cardiac failure
  • Hypertrophy of heart
  • Neurohumoral dysfunction


Dive into the research topics of 'Chronic heart failure: a disease of the brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this