Medical College of Wisconsin
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Ontogeny of the arterial and cardiopulmonary baroreflex during fetal and postnatal life. Am J Physiol 1997 Aug;273(2 Pt 2):R457-71



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-0030827717   67 Citations


The autonomic nervous system is intimately involved in regulating cardiovascular function. Sensing mechanisms dispersed throughout the circulation, including arterial baroreceptors, low pressure receptors, and chemosensitive receptors, continually evoke reflexes designed to maintain cardiovascular homeostasis. Although there is a growing body of knowledge regarding neural regulation of the adult cardiovascular system, characterization and understanding of these physiological systems during development is limited. This review highlights developmental changes in the arterial and cardiopulmonary baroreflex during fetal and postnatal life and contrasts the function of these responses with those seen in the adult. Baroreceptors are functional in the immature animal and reset toward higher pressure levels with maturation. In our ovine model, the sensitivity of the efferent limb of the baroreflex is greatest during fetal life and decreases with postnatal development. As in the adult, angiotensin II and arginine vasopressin interact with the sympathetic nervous system early during development to alter baroreflex control of the cardiovascular system. However, the extent to which these hormonal systems influence autonomic reflexes during the fetal and newborn period appears vastly different than in the adult. Endogenous angiotensin II significantly contributes to resetting of the arterial baroreflex early in life, whereas even high circulating levels of vasopressin have little effect on baroreflex function until adulthood. Finally, the ability of cardiopulmonary mechanoreceptors to regulate cardiovascular function is impaired early in development, in sharp contrast to the heightened sensitivity of the arterial baroreflex at this stage of maturation. The potential importance of these autonomic reflexes on cardiovascular function during the perinatal period is highlighted.

Author List

Segar JL


Jeffrey L. Segar MD Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Animals, Newborn
jenkins-FCD Prod-486 e3098984f26de787f5ecab75090d0a28e7f4f7c0