Reflex cardiovascular responses evoked by selective activation of skeletal muscle ergoreceptors

B. G. Leshnower, J. T. Potts, M. G. Garry, J. H. Mitchell

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23 Scopus citations


It is well known that the exercise pressor reflex (EPR) is mediated by group III and IV skeletal muscle afferent fibers, which exhibit unique discharge responses to mechanical and chemical stimuli. Based on the difference in discharge patterns of group III and IV muscle afferents, we hypothesized that activation of mechanically sensitive (MS) fibers would evoke a different pattern of cardiovascular responses compared with activation of both MS and chemosensitive (CS) fibers. Experiments were conducted in chloralose-urethane-anesthetized cats (n = 10). Passive muscle stretch was used to activate MS afferents, and electrically evoked contraction of the triceps surae was used to activate both MS and CS muscle afferents. No significant differences were shown in reflex heart rate and mean arterial pressure (MAP) responses between passive muscle stretch and evoked muscle contraction. However, when the reflex responses were matched according to tension-time index (TTI), the peak MAP response (67 ± 4 vs. 56 ± 4 mmHg, P < 0.05) was significantly greater at higher TTI (427 ± 18 vs. 304 ± 13 kg·s, high vs. low TTI, P < 0.05), despite different modes of afferent fiber activation. When the same mode of afferent fiber activation was compared, the peak MAP response (65 ± 7 vs. 55 ± 5 mmHg, P < 0.05) was again predicted by the magnitude of TTI (422 ± 24 vs. 298 ± 19 kg·s, high vs. low TTI, P < 0.05). Total sensory input from skeletal muscle ergoreceptors, as predicted by TTI and not the modality of afferent fiber activation (muscle contraction vs. passive stretch), is suggested to be the primary determinant of the magnitude of the EPR-evoked cardiovascular response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-316
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Exercise pressor reflex
  • Muscle contraction
  • Muscle stretch


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