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Central Regulation of Autonomic Functions$
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Ida J. Llewellyn-Smith and Anthony J. M. Verberne

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306637.001.0001

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Regulation of Autonomic Function by Visceral and Somatic Afferents

Regulation of Autonomic Function by Visceral and Somatic Afferents

(p.161) 9 Regulation of Autonomic Function by Visceral and Somatic Afferents
Central Regulation of Autonomic Functions

John C. Longhurst

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses reflex autonomic regulation of the cardiovascular system by input from finely myelinated and unmyelinated sensory nerve fibers. The focus is on abdominal and cardiac visceral afferent activation during ischemia, somatic afferent stimulation with exercise and interactions between both afferent systems during electroacupuncture. Important mechanical and chemical stimuli are identified as well as interactions between chemical stimuli, that together provide input to cardiovascular regions in the central nervous system that process this information. For example, acupuncture-evoked modulation of visceral sympathoexcitatory reflex activity is processed in the spinal cord and hypothalamus [arcuate nucleus], midbrain [ventrolateral periaqueductal gray], and medulla [raphé nuclei and rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM)]. Both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, including among others, glutamate, opioids, endocannabinoids, GABA, nociceptin, and serotonin, are involved. The role of individual neurotransmitters varies by nucleus, but in concert they modulate reflex increases in blood pressure through their action on presympathetic RVLM neurons.

Keywords:   reflex cardiovascular regulation, visceral afferents, somatic afferents, rostral ventrolateral medulla, ischemia, glutamate, GABA, endocannabinoids, serotonin, opioids, nociceptin

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