Hormonal-sympathetic interactions in long-term regulation of arterial pressure: An hypothesis

V. L. Brooks, J. W. Osborn

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126 Scopus citations


The importance of the sympathetic nervous system in short-term regulation of arterial pressure is well accepted. However, the question of whether neural systems participate in long-term control of pressure has been debated for decades and remains unresolved. The principal argument against such a control system is that arterial baroreceptors adapt to sustained changes in arterial pressure. In addition, denervation of baroreceptors has minimal to no effect on basal levels of arterial pressure chronically. This argument assumes, however, that baroreceptors provide the primary chronic feedback signal to the central nervous system. An alternate model is proposed in which circulating hormones, primarily arginine vasopressin and angiotensin II, provide a long-term afferent signal to the central nervous system via binding to specific receptors in central sites lacking a blood-brain barrier (circumventricular organs). Studies suggest that the release of the hormones and the sympathetic response to alterations in their plasma concentrations are nonadaptive but may be gated by baroreceptor input. Evidence that this 'hormonal-sympathetic reflex' model may explain the long-term alterations in sympathetic activity in response to chronic salt depletion and salt loading as well as congestive heart failure is presented. Finally, the role of an impaired hormonal sympathetic reflex in hypertension, specifically salt- dependent hypertension, is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1343-R1358
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 37-6
StatePublished - 1995


  • angiotensin
  • circumventricular organs
  • hypertension
  • sympathetic activity
  • vasopressin


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