Role of the Sympathetic Nervous System on Arterial Distensibility

  • Cristina Giannattasio


The sympathetic nervous system has a powerful excitatory influence on the cardiovascular system. Central or reflex activation of cardiac sympathetic nerves increases heart rate, shortens transmission of the electrical impulse from the atria to the ventricles and increases ventricular contractility, thereby improving cardiac function and helping cardiac output to be maintained or increased when this is necessary to provide adequate perfusion to organs and tissues. Central or reflex activation of peripheral sympathetic nerves cause vasoconstriction that can selectively or diffusely increase peripheral vascular resistance, maintaining or increasing blood pressure values to allow organs to be adequately perfused in a variety of behavioural circumstances in which perfusion needs substantial variations [1].


Sympathetic Nervous System Arterial Stiffness Radial Artery Sympathetic Nerve Activity Muscle Sympathetic Nerve Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Mancia G, Mark AL (1983) Arterial baroreflexes in humans. In: Shepherd JT, Abboud FM (eds) Handbook of physiology, Sec. 2: The cardiovascular system. American Physiological Society, Bethesda, pp 755–795Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bramwell JC, Hill AV (1922) The velocity of the pulse wave in man. Proc R Soc Lond (Biol) 93:298–306Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Peterson J, Jensen R, Parnel J (1960) Mechanical properties of arteries in vivo. Circ Res 8:622–639Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bergel DH (1961) The dynamic elastic properties of the arterial wall. J Physiol 156:458–469PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    McDonald DA (1974) Wave reflection, wave velocity and attenuation. In: Blood flow in arteries, 2nd Edn. Edward Arnold, London, pp 309–350, 389–419Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    O’Rourke MF, Avolio AP (1980) Studies on man and in a multibranched model of the human systemic arterial tree. Circ Res 46:363–372PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    O’Rourke MF (1982) Vascular impedance, hypertension. In: Arterial function in health and disease. Harlow, Essex, pp 94–132, 210–224Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dobrin PB (1983) Vascular mechanisms. In: Hamilton WF, Dow P (eds) Handbook of Physiology. American Physiological Society, Washington DC, pp 65–102Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    O’Rourke MF, Avolio AP (1980) Pulsatile flow and pressure in human systemic arteries. Circ Res 46:363–372PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nichols WV, O’Rourke MF (1990) McDonald’s blood flow in arteries: theoretical, experimental and principles. Edward Arnold, London, pp 77–142, 216–269, 283–289, 398–437Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Blacher J, Safar ME, Guerin AP et al (2003) Aortic pulse wave velocity index and mortality in end-stage renal disease. Kidney Int 63:1852–1860PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Giannattasio C, Achilli F, Failla M et al (2002) Radial, carotid and aortic distensibility in congestive heart failure: effects of high-dose angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or low-dose association with angiotensin type 1 receptor blockade. J Am Coll Cardiol 39:1275–1282PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Safar ME, Levy BI, Struijker-Boudier H (2003) Current perspectives on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure in hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Circulation 107:2864–2869PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Trazzi S, Omboni S, Santucciu C, Mancia G (1992) Variability in arterial diameter and compliance: compliance modulation reserve. J Hypertens 10[Suppl. 6]:41–44Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Boutouyrie P, Lacolley P, Girerd X et al (1994) Sympathetic activation decreases medium-sized arterial compliance in humans. Heart Circ Physiol 36:H1368–H1376Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Perret F, Mooser V, Waeber B et al (1989) Effect of cold pressor test on the internal diameter of the radial artery. Am J Hypertens 2:727–728PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Failla M, Grappiolo A, Carugo S et al (1997) Effects of cigarette smoking on carotid and radial artery distensibility. J Hypertens 15:1659–1664PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Grassi G, Seravalle G, Calhoun DA et al (1992) Cigarette smoking and the adrenergic nervous system. Clin Exp Hypertens A 14:251–260PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ludbrook J, Vincent AH, Walsh JA (1974) The effects of sham smoking and tobacco smoking on hand blood flow. Aust J Exp Bio Med Sci 52:185–190Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Winniford MD, Wheelan KR, Kremers MS (1987) Smoking-induced coronary vasoconstriction in patients with atherosclerotic coronary artery and prevention by calcium antagonists and nitroglycerin. Am J Cardiol 59:203–207PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Czernin J, Sun K, Brunken R et al (1995) Effect of acute and long-term smoking on myocardial blood flow and flow reserve. Circulation 91:2891–2897PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Stefanidis C, Tsiamis E, Vlachopoulos C et al (1997) Unfavorable effect of smoking on the elastic properties of the human aorta. Circulation 95:31–38Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Kool MJ, Hoeks AP, Struijker Boudier HA et al (1993) Short-and long-term effects of smoking on arterial wall properties in habitual smokers. J Am Coll 22:1881–1886CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wollersheim H, Firestone G, Fronek A (1993) Selective increase in popliteal artery stiffness in long-term smokers. J Hypertens 11[Suppl. 5]:84–85Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Cryer PE, Haymond MW, Santiago JV, Shah SD (1976) Norepinephrine and epinephrine release and adrenergic mediation of smoking-associated haemodynamic and metabolic events. N Engl J Med 295:573–577PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Groppelli A, Omboni S, Parati G, Mancia G (1990) Blood pressure and heart rate response to repeated smoking before and after beta-blockade and selective alpha-1-inhibition. J Hypertens 8[Suppl. 5]:35–40Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Failla M, Grappiolo A, Emanuelli G et al (1999) Sympathetic tone restrains arterial distensibility of healthy and atherosclerotic subjects. J Hypertens 17:1117–1123PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Grassi G, Giannattasio C, Failla M et al (1995) Sympathetic modulation of radial artery compliance in congestive heart failure. Hypertension 26:348–354PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Gerovà M, Gero J (1969) Range of the sympathetic control of the dog femoral artery. Circ Res 24:349–359PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Zeiher AM, Drexler H, Wollschlager H, Just H (1991) Modulation of coronary vasomotor tone in humans. Progressive endothelial dysfunction with different early stages of coronary atherosclerosis. Circulation 83:391–401PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Benetos A, Huguet F, Albaladejo P et al (1993) Role of adrenergic tone in mechanical and functional properties of carotid artery during aging. Am J Physiol 265:1132–1138Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kosch M, Barenbrock M, Kisters K et al (2002) Relationship between muscle sympathetic nerve activity and large artery mechanical vessel wall properties in renal transplant patients. J Hypertens 20:501–508PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Mangoni AA, Mircoli L, Giannattasio C et al (1996) Heart rate-dependance of arterial distensibility in vivo. J Hypertens 14:897–901PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Mangoni AA, Mircoli L, Giannattasio C et al (1997) Effect of sympathectomy on mechanical properties of common carotid and femoral arteries. Hypertension 30:1085–1088PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Giannattasio C, Failla M, Stella ML et al (1995) Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition and radial artery compliance in patients with congestive heart failure. Hypertension 26:491–496PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Randall OS, Esler MD, Bulloch EG et al (1976) Relationship of age and blood pressure to baroreflex sensitivity and arterial compliance in man. Clin Sci Mol Med 51:357–360Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Giannattasio C, Failla M, Piperno A et al (1999) Early impairment of large artery structure and function in type I diabetes mellitus. Diabetologia 42:987–994PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Giannattasio C, Achilli F, Failla M et al (2002) Radial, carotid and aortic distensibility in congestive heart failure: effects of high-dose angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor or low-dose association with angiotensin type 1 receptor blockade. J Am Coll Cardiol 39:1275–1282PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Giannattasio C, Failla M, Lucchina S et al (2005) Arterial stiffening influence of sympathetic nerve activity. Evidence from hand transplantation in man. Hypertension 45:608PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Owen ER, Dubernard JM, Lanzetta M et al (2001) Peripheral nerve regeneration in human hand transplantation. Transplant Proc 33:1720–1721PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Dimitriadou V, Aubineau P, Taxi J, Seylaz J (1988) Ultrastructural changes in the cerebral artery wall induced by long-term denervation. Blood Vessels 25:122–143PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Handa Y, Nojyo Y, Hayashi M (1991) Patterns of reinnervation of denervated cerebral arteries by sympathetic nerve fibers after unilateral ganglionectomy in rats. Exp Brain Res 86:82–89PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Kiyochi H, Ono A, Yamamoto N et al (1995) Extrinsic sympathetic reinnervation after intestinal transplantation in rats. Transplantation 59:328–333PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Burke MN, McGinn AL, Homans DC et al (1995) Evidence for functional sympathetic reinnervation of left ventricle and coronary arteries after orthotopic cardiac transplantation in humans. Circulation 91:3023–3024Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Giannattasio C, Vincenti A, Failla M et al (2003) Effects of heart rate changes on arterial distensibility in humans. Hypertension 42:253–256PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Lichtor T, Davis HR, Johns L et al (1987) The sympathetic nervous system and atherosclerosis. J Neurosurg 67:906–1014PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Ross R (1986) The pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. An update. N Engl J Med 8:488–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Dobrin PB, Rovick AA (1969) Influence of vascular smooth muscle on contractile mechanics and elasticity of arteries. Am J Physiol 217:1644–1651PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Mukesh J, Dai HB, Carrozza JP (1996) Intrinsic tone as potential vascular reserve in conductance and resistance vessels. Circulation 94:1083–1088Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Zatman M, Stacy RW, Randall J, Eberstein A (1954) The time course of stress relaxation in isolated arterial segments. Am J Physiol 177:299–302Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Bassiouny HS, Zarins CK, Hadowaki MH, Glagov S (1994) Hemodynamic stress and experimental aortoiliac atherosclerosis. J Vasc Surg 19:426–434PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Lawton RW (1960) Variability of the viscoelastic constants along the aortic axis of the dog. Circ Res 8:381–389PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Glaser E, Lacolley P, Boutouyrie P et al (1995) Dynamic versus static compliance of the carotid artery in living Wistar-Kyoto rats. J Vasc Res 32:254–265PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Hoecks APG, Brands PJ, Reneman S (1991) Assessment of the arterial distension waveform using Doppler signal processing. J Hypertension 10:979–984Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Hoeks A, Brands PJ, Smeets FA, Reneman RS (1990) Assessment of the distensibility of superficial arteries. Ultrasound Med. Biol.; 16:121–128PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Safar ME, Levy BI, Struijker-Boudier H (2003) Current perspectives on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure in hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Circulation 107:2864–2869PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Perrault LP, Mahlberg F, Breugnot C (2000) Hypercholesterolemia increases coronary endothelial dysfunction, lipid content, and accelerated atherosclerosis after heart transplantation. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 20:728–736PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Giannattasio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineMilano-Bicocca University and San Gerardo HospitalMonza, Milantaly

Personalised recommendations