Long-term control of arterial blood pressure

Physiol Rev. 1992 Jan;72(1):231-300. doi: 10.1152/physrev.1992.72.1.231.


Two concepts for the long-term regulation of arterial pressure were considered in this review, the neural control hypothesis and the volume regulation hypothesis. The role of the nervous system and fluid volume regulation are intertwined in a way that has made it difficult to experimentally evaluate their separate contributions in the long-term regulation of arterial pressure. Nevertheless, from a substantial body of work related to the neural control of cardiovascular function, it appears that the ability of the nervous system to control arterial pressure is limited to the detection and correction of rapid short-term changes of arterial pressure. A long and exhaustive search has yet yielded no new neural mechanisms beyond the classic sinoaortic baroreceptors that can detect changes of arterial pressure. The baroreceptor mechanisms are of great importance for the moment-to-moment stabilization of arterial pressure, but because they do not possess sufficient strength and because they reset in time to the prevailing level of arterial pressure, they cannot provide a sustained negative feedback signal to provide long-term regulation of arterial pressure in face of sustained stimuli. This is not to say that the nervous system cannot affect the long-term level of arterial pressure. A distinction is made here between the many factors that can influence the long-term level of pressure and those that actually serve to detect changes of pressure and serve to maintain the level of pressure within a narrow range over the period of our adult lifetime. In this sense, there is evidence that in genetically susceptible individuals, environmental stresses can influence the long-term level of arterial pressure via the central and peripheral neural autonomic pathways. It is inappropriate, however, to view the nervous system as a long-term controller of arterial pressure because there is yet no evidence that the CNS can detect changes of arterial pressure nor changes in total body sodium and water content over sustained periods whereby it could provide an adequate long-term normalization of such error signals. In contrast, evidence has grown in support of the renal pressure-diuresis volume regulation hypothesis for the long-term control of arterial pressure over the past decade. An enhanced understanding of the mechanisms of pressure diuresis-natriuresis coupled with studies exploring how changes of vascular volume can influence vascular smooth muscle tone provide a compelling basis for this hypothesis of long-term arterial pressure regulation. This overall concept is represented and summarized in Figure 12.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Blood Volume
  • Diuresis
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology
  • Natriuresis
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance