Effect of stellate ganglionectomy on basal cardiovascular function and responses to β1-adrenoceptor blockade in the rat

Misa Yoshimoto, Erica A. Wehrwein, Martin Novotny, Greg M. Swain, David L. Kreulen, John W. Osborn

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20 Scopus citations


Cardiac sympathetic nerve activity is an important short-term controller of cardiac function and arterial pressure. Studies also suggest that long-term increases in cardiac sympathetic nerve activity may contribute to hypertension, coronary artery disease, and cardiac remodeling in heart failure. However, our understanding of the role of cardiac sympathetic nerves in chronic models of cardiovascular disease has been limited by inadequate experimental approaches. The present study was conducted to develop a surgical method to surgically denervate the sympathetic nerves of the rat heart for long-term cardiovascular studies. We characterized the effect of cardiac sympathetic denervation on basal levels of mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR) and the responses to a chronic administration of atenolol, a β1-adrenoceptor antagonist. Rats were instrumented with telemetry transmitters for continuous recording of MAP and HR. After a 4-day baseline period, the rats were subjected to bilateral stellate ganglionectomy (SGX; n = 9) or sham surgery (Sham; n = 8). Seven days following SGX or Sham, the rats were administered atenolol for 5 days, followed by a 7-day recovery period. Following a transient decrease, SGX had no effect on basal MAP but decreased HR compared with baseline and Sham rats. Five days of atenolol treatment decreased MAP similarly in SGX and Sham rats. Atenolol resulted in a marked bradycardia in Sham rats but had a neglible effects on HR in SGX rats. The measurement of the content of cardiac catecholamines in all cardiac chambers at the end of the study verified a successful sympathetic denervation. This study confirms that bilateral SGX is a useful method to study the contribution of cardiac sympathetic nerves on the regulation of cardiac function. Moreover, these results suggest that cardiac sympathetic nerves are relatively unimportant in maintaining the basal level of MAP or the depressor response to atenolol in conscious, unrestrained rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2447-H2454
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Cardiac sympathetic nerve activity
  • Heart rate


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