Complex interactions are known to occur between the sympathetic and parasympathetic controls of the heart. Although sympathetic nerve stimulation (SNS) usually augments the heart rate (HR) response to vagal nerve stimulation (VNS), exogenously administered norepinephrine (NE) can attenuate the HR response as well as the myocardial interstitial acetylcholine (ACh) release during VNS. To provide a basis for an integrative knowledge about the opposing adrenergic effects on the vagal control of the heart, we examined whether SNS significantly attenuates VNS-induced myocardial interstitial ACh release in the in vivo beating heart. In nine anesthetized rats, changes in HR and myocardial interstitial ACh release in response to 5- and 20-Hz VNS were examined in both the absence and presence of a 5-Hz background SNS. The SNS significantly enhanced the VNS-induced HR reduction during 20-Hz VNS (−101.2 ± 33.1 vs. –163.0 ± 34.9 beats/min, P < 0.001, a 60% augmentation). By contrast, the SNS significantly attenuated the ACh release during 20-Hz VNS (4.30 ± 0.72 vs. 3.80 ± 0.75 nM, P < 0.01, a 12% attenuation). In conclusion, SNS exerted only a moderate inhibitory effect on the VNS-induced myocardial interstitial ACh release in the in vivo beating heart.
- Heart rate
- Sympathetic nerve stimulation
- Vagal nerve stimulation