Pregnancy and acute baroreflex resetting in conscious rabbits

Virginia L. Brooks, Kathy A. Clow, Kathleen P. O'Hagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


To test the hypothesis that acute resetting of baroreflex control of heart rate (HR) is enhanced during pregnancy, we determined whether the rightward shift in the baroreflex relationship between arterial pressure and HR after arterial pressure is raised [∼25 mmHg for 30 min, due to infusion of phenylephrine (PE) or methoxamine (Meth)] is greater in late pregnant compared with nonpregnant conscious rabbits. Baroreflex function was assessed by monitoring HR responses to both stepwise steady-state changes (n = 14) and rapid ramp changes (n = 10) in arterial pressure. Pregnancy decreased reflex gain, increased reflex minimum HR, and shifted the curves to a lower pressure level, when either the steady-state or ramp method was used (all changes, P < 0.05). When PE was used to increase pressure, resetting of steady-state curves was observed both before and during pregnancy, but the magnitude of the resetting was less in the pregnant rabbits. Further inspection of the data revealed that the size of the shift in pregnant rabbits was inversely related to the dose of PE. Because the pressure rise was the same in all experiments, PE appears to nonspecifically counteract acute resetting. When Meth was used instead to increase pressure, resetting of steady-state curves was similar in pregnant and nonpregnant rabbits and was unrelated to dose. Similarly, when reflex curves were generated using the ramp method, and either Meth or low doses of PE were used to increase pressure, no differences in the degree of resetting were observed between pregnant and nonpregnant rabbits. In summary, high doses of PE counteract acute resetting of baroreflex control of HR. More importantly, while baroreflex function is depressed, the ability of the baroreflex to reset appears to be preserved during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R429-R440
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2 52-2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Methoxamine
  • Phenylephrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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