Baroreceptor afferents modulate brain excitation and influence susceptibility to toxic effects of hyperbaric oxygen.
Unexplained adjustments in baroreflex sensitivity occur in conjunction with exposures to potentially toxic levels of hyperbaric oxygen. To investigate this, we monitored central nervous system, autonomic and cardiovascular responses in conscious and anesthetized rats exposed to hyperbaric oxygen at 5 and 6 atmospheres absolute, respectively. We observed two contrasting phases associated with time-dependent alterations in the functional state of the arterial baroreflex. The first phase, which conferred protection against potentially neurotoxic doses of oxygen, was concurrent with an increase in baroreflex sensitivity and included decreases in cerebral blood flow, heart rate, cardiac output, and sympathetic drive. The second phase was characterized by baroreflex impairment, cerebral hyperemia, spiking on the electroencephalogram, increased sympathetic drive, parasympatholysis, and pulmonary injury. Complete arterial baroreceptor deafferentation abolished the initial protective response, whereas electrical stimulation of intact arterial baroreceptor afferents prolonged it. We concluded that increased afferent traffic attributable to arterial baroreflex activation delays the development of excessive central excitation and seizures. Baroreflex inactivation or impairment removes this protection, and seizures may follow. Finally, electrical stimulation of intact baroreceptor afferents extends the normal delay in seizure development. These findings reveal that the autonomic nervous system is a powerful determinant of susceptibility to sympathetic hyperactivation and seizures in hyperbaric oxygen and the ensuing neurogenic pulmonary injury.
Demchenko, IT; Gasier, HG; Zhilyaev, SY; Moskvin, AN; Krivchenko, AI; Piantadosi, CA; Allen, BW
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