The performance of the sympathetic nervous system during sustained moderate cerebral ischemia (CI) was examined in the present study. For this purpose, a Cushing response was elicited repeatedly during incomplete global CI in anesthetized artificially ventilated cats after vagotomy and baroreceptor denervation. In control animals without CI, sympathetic activity in response to brief elevation of intracranial pressure (ICP) showed a well-repeatable two-phase reaction. During CI there was a progressive deterioration of background sympathetic nerve discharge (SND) over a period of 30 min. SND response to repeated elevation of ICP was initially similar to control response but later with progression of CI was seriously changed. 1) Instead of the usual hyperactivation, sympathetic nerve activity was depressed during intracranial hypertension. 2) The characteristic desynchronized activity either appeared later during the reperfusion period or remained absent. The progressive loss of SND response to raised ICP in developed CI was compared with the changes seen in experiments in which repeated ICP elevations were superimposed on asphyxia. These findings suggest that the sympathetic component of the Cushing reaction strongly depends on the actual state of brain stem autonomic circuits and may be seriously altered in pathological situations involving ischemic brain injury.
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society