Vagal determinants of exercise capacity

Nat Commun. 2017 May 18;8:15097. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15097.

Abstract

Indirect measures of cardiac vagal activity are strongly associated with exercise capacity, yet a causal relationship has not been established. Here we show that in rats, genetic silencing of the largest population of brainstem vagal preganglionic neurons residing in the brainstem's dorsal vagal motor nucleus dramatically impairs exercise capacity, while optogenetic recruitment of the same neuronal population enhances cardiac contractility and prolongs exercise endurance. These data provide direct experimental evidence that parasympathetic vagal drive generated by a defined CNS circuit determines the ability to exercise. Decreased activity and/or gradual loss of the identified neuronal cell group provides a neurophysiological basis for the progressive decline of exercise capacity with aging and in diverse disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Cardiac Output
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism
  • Heart Ventricles / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology*
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optogenetics
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Rats
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*