APS Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology

Improving Translation in Health and Disease Through Advances in the Analysis of Sympathetic Nerve Activity

Symposium — Wednesday, April 28, 2021 — 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM — Virtual Session, Room APS-13
Neural Control and Autonomic Regulation Section — Chair: Patrick J. Mueller — Co-Chair: Can Ozan Tan

The timeliness and prominence of the sessions above emphasize the clinical importance of quantifying and examining the important role of the sympathetic nervous system in a variety of physiological and pathophysiological states. Yet, these previous sessions were not intended to focus explicitly on the translational value of quantifying changes in the level of sympathetic nerve activity observed across species (i.e. from rodents to humans). Moreover, unlike more directly translatable, standardized measurements of cardiovascular hemodynamics (e.g. blood pressure and heart rate), the acquisition, quantification and expression of changes in sympathetic outflow are variable in the literature, and differ particularly and distinctly, in human versus animal studies. Because sympathetic nerve recordings provide one, if not the only, direct and continuously measured output of the brain’s regulation of the sympathetic nervous system, there is a strong need for improvement in translational approaches to comparing sympathetic activity in animals and humans. Our symposium is designed to: 1) address the challenges in acquisition, quantification and expression of changes in sympathetic outflow in human versus animal studies; 2) advocate for multidisciplinary approaches (i.e. physiology, biomedical engineering, neuroanatomy); and 3) emphasize the need for experimentation at multiple levels of investigation. The specific questions this symposium addresses are: 1) What steps are needed to be able to directly compare sympathetic outflow in humans versus animals? 2) What further information will be gained by novel analysis techniques of sympathetic nerve activity? Two or more conflicting issues that warrant presentation and discussion are: 1) The use of absolute voltages in comparing levels of sympathetic nerve activity between experimental groups, and 2) The feasibility of isolating individual action potentials to determine if they are either rate encoded or recruited during a given sympathoexcitatory challenge in human and animal studies. The session will offer novel insights and produce important discussion points for an intended audience of preclinical and clinical researchers alike. We will promote a variety of future directions including cross-collaborative projects in which laboratories acquiring sympathetic nerve activity in humans can compare data to that acquired in animal studies.


  • Introduction
    Patrick J. Mueller — Physiology, Wayne State University
    4:00 PM - 4:05 PM

  • Learning the Language of the Sympathetic Nervous System: Discharge Patterns and Recruitment Strategies in Humans
    J. Kevin Shoemaker — Kinesiology, University of Western Ontario
    4:05 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Translating the Language of the Sympathetic Nervous System: Time-Dependent Alterations in Rats and Humans
    Adina E. Draghici — Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School
    4:30 PM - 4:55 PM

  • Differential Control of Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Conscious Sheep: Implications for Control of the Sympathetic Nerves in Humans
    Rohit Ramchandra — Physiology, University of Auckland
    4:55 PM - 5:20 PM

  • Conclusion
    Patrick J. Mueller — Physiology, Wayne State University
    5:20 PM - 5:30 PM

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