Effects of postural changes and removal of vestibular inputs on blood flow to and from the hindlimb of conscious felines

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Dec;297(6):R1777-84. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00551.2009. Epub 2009 Sep 30.


Considerable data show that the vestibular system contributes to blood pressure regulation. Prior studies reported that lesions that eliminate inputs from the inner ears attenuate the vasoconstriction that ordinarily occurs in the hindlimbs of conscious cats during head-up rotations. These data led to the hypothesis that labyrinthine-deficient animals would experience considerable lower body blood pooling during head-up postural alterations. The present study tested this hypothesis by comparing blood flow though the femoral artery and vein of conscious cats during 20-60 degrees head-up tilts from the prone position before and after removal of vestibular inputs. In vestibular-intact animals, venous return from the hindlimb dropped considerably at the onset of head-up tilts and, at 5 s after the initiation of 60 degrees rotations, was 66% lower than when the animals were prone. However, after the animals were maintained in the head-up position for another 15 s, venous return was just 33% lower than before the tilt commenced. At the same time point, arterial inflow to the limb had decreased 32% from baseline, such that the decrease in blood flow out of the limb due to the force of gravity was precisely matched by a reduction in blood reaching the limb. After vestibular lesions, the decline in femoral artery blood flow that ordinarily occurs during head-up tilts was attenuated, such that more blood flowed into the leg. Contrary to expectations, in most animals, venous return was facilitated, such that no more blood accumulated in the hindlimb than when labyrinthine signals were present. These data show that peripheral blood pooling is unlikely to account for the fluctuations in blood pressure that can occur during postural changes of animals lacking inputs from the inner ear. Instead, alterations in total peripheral resistance following vestibular dysfunction could affect the regulation of blood pressure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiac Output
  • Cats
  • Consciousness
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / physiology*
  • Femoral Vein / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics*
  • Hindlimb
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply*
  • Posture*
  • Prone Position
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Tilt-Table Test
  • Time Factors
  • Vascular Resistance
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / surgery
  • Wakefulness