Factors confounding blockade of cardiac afferents by intrapericardial procaine in conscious rabbits

R. G. Evans, I. P. Hayes, J. Ludbrook, S. Ventura

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Intrapericardial procaine has been used by several groups to block cardiac afferent nerves to study effects of cardiogenic reflexes. In eight conscious rabbits, procaine (17-113 mg ipc; median 32) blocked cardiac efferents. Procaine (17-113 mg ipc; median 39) abolished the reflex depressor effects of the cardiac C-fiber excitant 1-phenylbiguanide (PBG), and in four of eight rabbits prevented the hypotensive phase 2 of acute central hypovolemia, which has been attributed to a signal from the heart. However, in three of the rabbits respiratory incoordination and blood gas abnormalities developed. In another study of four rabbits, procaine (165-335 mg ipc; median 235) invariably caused phrenic nerve blockade and underventilation. In three rabbits, after intrapericardial (250 mg) or subcutaneous (50 mg) procaine, plasma procaine levels rose to 9.4 and 4.8 μg/ml, respectively. During intravenous infusion of procaine, the PBG chemoreflex was abolished at plasma levels >3.1 μg/ml, and phase 2 of acute hypovolemia at levels ≥4.3 μg/ml. There is a narrow margin between a dose of intrapericardial procaine that blocks cardiac nerves and one that can produce confounding effects from phrenic nerve blockade or absorption into the bloodstream.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology
Issue number6 33-6
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiac nerves
  • hypovolemia
  • phenylbiguanide
  • phrenic nerve
  • respiratory depression

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