Cerebrovascular reactivity and dynamic autoregulation in tetraplegia

Luke C Wilson, James D Cotter, Jui-Lin Fan, Rebekah A I Lucas, Kate N Thomas, Philip N Ainslie
American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 2010, 298 (4): R1035-42
Humans with spinal cord injury have impaired cardiovascular function proportional to the level and completeness of the lesion. The effect on cerebrovascular function is unclear, especially for high-level lesions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the integrity of dynamic cerebral autoregulation (CA) and the cerebrovascular reactivity in chronic tetraplegia (Tetra). After baseline, steady-state hypercapnia (5% CO(2)) and hypocapnia (controlled hyperventilation) were used to assess cerebrovascular reactivity in 6 men with Tetra (C5-C7 lesion) and 14 men without [able-bodied (AB)]. Middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (MCAv), cerebral oxygenation, arterial blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), cardiac output (Q; model flow), partial pressure of end-tidal CO(2) (Pet(CO(2))), and plasma catecholamines were measured. Dynamic CA was assessed by transfer function analysis of spontaneous fluctuations in BP and MCAv. MCAv pulsatility index (MCAv PI) was calculated as (MCAv(systolic) - MCAv(diastolic))/MCAv(mean) and standardized by dividing by mean arterial pressure (MAP). Resting BP, total peripheral resistance, and catecholamines were lower in Tetra (P < 0.05), and standardized MCAv PI was approximately 36% higher in Tetra (P = 0.003). Resting MCAv, cerebral oxygenation, HR, and Pet(CO(2)) were similar between groups (P > 0.05). Although phase and transfer function gain relationships in dynamic CA were maintained with Tetra (P > 0.05), coherence in the very low-frequency range (0.02-0.07 Hz) was approximately 21% lower in Tetra (P = 0.006). Full (hypo- and hypercapnic) cerebrovascular reactivity to CO(2) was unchanged with Tetra (P > 0.05). During hypercapnia, standardized MCAv PI reactivity was enhanced by approximately 78% in Tetra (P = 0.016). Despite impaired cardiovascular function, chronic Tetra involves subtle changes in dynamic CA and cerebrovascular reactivity to CO(2). Changes are evident in coherence at baseline and MCAv PI during baseline and hypercapnic states in chronic Tetra, which may be indicative of cerebrovascular adaptation.

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