Vestibulo-sympathetic responses

Bill J. Yates, Philip S. Bolton, Vaughan G. Macefield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Evidence accumulated over 30 years, from experiments on animals and human subjects, has conclusively demonstrated that inputs from the vestibular otolith organs contribute to the control of blood pressure during movement and changes in posture. This review considers the effects of gravity on the body axis, and the consequences of postural changes on blood distribution in the body. It then separately considers findings collected in experiments on animals and human subjects demonstrating that the vestibular system regulates blood distribution in the body during movement. Vestibulosympathetic reflexes differ from responses triggered by unloading of cardiovascular receptors such as baroreceptors and cardiopulmonary receptors, as they can be elicited before a change in blood distribution occurs in the body. Dissimilarities in the expression of vestibulosympathetic reflexes in humans and animals are also described. In particular, there is evidence from experiments in animals, but not humans, that vestibulosympathetic reflexes are patterned, and differ between body regions. Results from neurophysiological and neuroanatomical studies in animals are discussed that identify the neurons that mediate vestibulosympathetic responses, which include cells in the caudal aspect of the vestibular nucleus complex, interneurons in the lateral medullary reticular formation, and bulbospinal neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla. Recent findings showing that cognition can modify the gain of vestibulosympathetic responses are also presented, and neural pathways that could mediate adaptive plasticity in the responses are proposed, including connections of the posterior cerebellar vermis with the vestibular nuclei and brainstem nuclei that regulate blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-887
Number of pages37
JournalComprehensive Physiology
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Cite this