Correlations between the autonomic modulation of heart rate, blood pressure and the pupillary light reflex in healthy subjects

J Neurol Sci. 2009 Apr 15;279(1-2):9-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2009.01.010. Epub 2009 Feb 5.


Information on autonomic modulation can be derived from different organs that are innervated by the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system, when assessing e.g. heart rate or blood pressure fluctuations or the pupil's reaction to light. Correlations between parameters from different target organs might reveal information on hierarchically higher centres of autonomic integration. Here, we obtained parameters of heart rate variability, blood pressure variability, baroreflex function and light reaction pupillography from 50 individuals and tested the hypothesis that these are associated. Pupil diameter and constriction latency significantly correlated with parameters of heart rate variability, but not with those of blood pressure variability. In contrast, relative amplitude significantly correlated with blood pressure variability only. In conclusion, the different branches of the autonomic nervous system examined here are not associated unequivocally but show a distinct pattern of interrelations in healthy subjects. Examinations as described here might add to the diagnosis of autonomic dysfunction and reveal differential patterns in certain disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baroreflex / physiology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Entropy
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pupil / physiology
  • Reflex, Pupillary / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult