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Blood Pressure (BP), comprised of recurrent systoles and diastoles, is controlled by central mechanisms to maintain blood flow. Periodic behavior of BP was modeled to study how peak amplitudes and frequencies of the systoles are modulated by vestibular activation. The model was implemented as a relaxation oscillator, driven by a central signal related to Desired BP. Relaxation oscillations were maintained by a second order system comprising two integrators and a threshold element in the feedback loop. The output signal related to BP was generated as a nonlinear function of the derivative of the first state variable, which is a summation of an input related to Desired BP, feedback from the states, and an input from the vestibular system into one of the feedback loops. This nonlinear function was structured to best simulate the shapes of systoles and diastoles, the relationship between BP and Heart Rate (HR) as well as the amplitude modulations of BP and Pulse Pressure. Increases in threshold in one of the feedback loops produced lower frequencies of HR, but generated large pulse pressures to maintain orthostasis, without generating a VasoVagal Response (VVR). Pulse pressures were considerably smaller in the anesthetized rats than during the simulations, but simulated pulse pressures were lowered by including saturation in the feedback loop. Stochastic changes in threshold maintained the compensatory Baroreflex Sensitivity. Sudden decreases in Desired BP elicited non-compensatory VVRs with smaller pulse pressures, consistent with experimental data. The model suggests that the Vestibular Sympathetic Reflex (VSR) modulates BP and HR of an oscillating system by manipulating parameters of the baroreflex feedback and the signals that maintain the oscillations. It also shows that a VVR is generated when the vestibular input triggers a marked reduction in Desired BP.


This article was originally published in frontiers in Neuroscience, available at doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00096.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).



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