Relation between baroreflex sensitivity and cardiac vagal tone in humans

Am J Physiol. 1994 Jan;266(1 Pt 2):H21-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.1994.266.1.H21.


The extent of dependence of cardiac vagal tone on arterial baroreceptor input has been studied in 12 healthy, young adult subjects. Cardiac vagal tone was defined as the chang in R-R interval after complete cholinergic blockade by atropine. Baroreflex sensitivity was determined with the "Oxford-method": R-R interval was regressed against systolic pressure. The interindividual correlation between cardiac vagal tone and baroreflex sensitivity for falling pressures was found to be significant, but not close (R = 0.81, P = 0.002). In each subject, the baroreflex regression line for falling pressures was extrapolated to the post-atropine R-R interval level; 50 mmHg was considered as minimum and 80 mmHg as maximum threshold level for the integrated baroreflex. From the relation between the individual regression lines and the minimum and maximum threshold levels, it was concluded that cardiac vagal tone could be generated by both baroreflex-dependent and -independent mechanisms, the ratio of which varies in different individuals, with the baroreflex-dependent mechanism being the dominant factor.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atropine / pharmacology
  • Baroreflex / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Female
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypotension / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Nitroglycerin / pharmacology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Systole
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*


  • Atropine
  • Nitroglycerin