Effects of postural changes and removal of vestibular inputs on blood flow to the head of conscious felines
Prior studies have shown that removal of vestibular inputs produces lability in blood pressure during orthostatic challenges (Holmes MJ, Cotter LA, Arendt HE, Cass SP, and Yates BJ. Brain Res 938: 62-72, 2002; Jian BJ, Cotter LA, Emanuel BA, Cass SP, and Yates BJ. J Appl Physiol 86: 1552-1560, 1999). Furthermore, these studies led to the prediction that the blood pressure instability results in susceptibility for orthostatic intolerance. The present experiments tested this hypothesis by recording common carotid blood flow (CCBF) in conscious cats during head-up tilts of 20, 40, and 60 degrees amplitudes, before and after the surgical elimination of labyrinthine inputs through a bilateral vestibular neurectomy. Before vestibular lesions in most animals, CCBF remained stable during head-up rotations. Unexpectedly, in five of six animals, the vestibular neurectomy resulted in a significant increase in baseline CCBF, particularly when the laboratory was illuminated; on average, basal blood flow measured when the animals were in the prone position was 41 +/- 17 (SE) % higher after the first week after the lesions. As a result, even when posturally related lability in CCBF occurred after removal of vestibular inputs, blood supply to the head was not lower than when labyrinthine inputs were present. These data suggest that vestibular influences on cardiovascular regulation are more complex than previously appreciated, because labyrinthine signals appear to participate in setting basal rates of blood flow to the head in addition to triggering dynamic changes in the circulation to compensate for orthostatic challenges.