Sympathetic activation decreases medium-sized arterial compliance in humans

Am J Physiol. 1994 Oct;267(4 Pt 2):H1368-76. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.1994.267.4.H1368.


This study used a precise noninvasive method in normotensive humans to determine the effects of sympathetic activation on arterial compliance. A recently developed, high-resolution echo-tracking system capable of measuring systolic/diastolic variations of arterial diameter was coupled to a Finapres system and used to calculate instantaneous systolic/diastolic pressure-diameter and compliance-pressure curves for a muscular medium-sized artery, the radial artery. Two standardized tests of sympathetic system activation, a cold pressor test (2 min) and a mental stress test (2 min of mental arithmetic), were performed at an interval of 8 days in random order in nine healthy volunteers [30 +/- 9 (SD) yr]. Radial arterial parameters were recorded every 30 s for 9 min, which included 2 min of cold pressor test or mental stress test. During both tests, radial arterial mean diameter did not change despite t he increase in mean arterial pressure (P < 0.001); stroke change in diameter decreased (P < 0.01), whereas pulse pressure increased (P < 0.01). Arterial compliance, calculated for the instantaneous level of mean arterial pressure, decreased significantly (P < 0.01). Compliance (C) calculated at 100 mmHg (C100) was arbitrarily chosen as a reference point for comparing compliance among the different periods of the test. C100 decreased significant (P < 0.05) during both tests (from 2.93 +/- 1.27 to 2.04 +/- 0.94 and from 3.29 +/- 1.73 to 2.63 +/- 1.55 mm2.mmHg-1.10(-3) during mental stress and the cold pressor test, respectively). These results indicate that sympathetic activation is able to decrease radial arterial compliance in healthy subjects. The reduction in arterial compliance probably resulted from complex interactions between changes in distending blood pressure and changes in radial arterial smooth muscle tone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cold Temperature
  • Humans
  • Mental Processes
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology*
  • Radial Artery / cytology
  • Radial Artery / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Time Factors