• Asymmetries of sympathetic regulation at the level of the inferior cervical ganglia have long been recognized. Lateralization of autonomic representation may also occur in the brain, since inactivation of the left and right hemispheres by intracarotid amobarbital produces an increase and decrease in heart rate, respectively. However, this conclusion has remained tentative, since the differential effect of lateralized brain lesions on sympathetic activity has not been studied systematically. Forty-eight urethan-anesthetized Wistar rats were divided into three groups: a group given right middle cerebral artery occlusion, one given left middle cerebral artery occlusion, and a group given sham operation. Heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, renal sympathetic nerve discharge, and electrocardiogram were monitored throughout the 4-hour experiments. Plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine levels were measured at baseline and 1 and 4 hours after occlusion or sham occlusion. The mean arterial pressure decreased in the group given sham operation and to a lesser extent in the group given left middle cerebral artery occlusion. By contrast, mean arterial pressure did not fall in the group given right middle cerebral artery occlusion and at 4 hours was significantly higher than control values in the sham-occluded rats. Renal sympathetic nerve discharge was decreased in the sham-occluded group, increased significantly from 20 minutes to 2 hours in the group given left middle cerebral artery occlusion, and increased from about 20 minutes to the end of the experiment in the group given right middle cerebral artery occlusion. The plasma norepinephrine level was significantly elevated at 1 hour (93%) and 4 hours (44%) only in the group given right middle cerebral artery occlusion. Also, only the group given right middle cerebral artery occlusion showed a significant increase in the QT interval of the electrocardiogram, which our previous work has shown to presage fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Taken together, our data indicate that right hemisphere infarcts have greater sympathetic consequences than left hemisphere infarcts. This finding suggests lateralization of autonomic function and thus is of possible relevance to clinical stroke.
Hachinski VC, Oppenheimer SM, Wilson JX, Guiraudon C, Cechetto DF. Asymmetry of Sympathetic Consequences of Experimental Stroke. Arch Neurol. 1992;49(7):697–702. doi:10.1001/archneur.1992.00530310039010
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