JOURNAL ARTICLE

Identification of low and high frequency ranges for heart rate variability and blood pressure variability analyses using pharmacological autonomic blockade with atropine and propranolol in swine

Rosangela Poletto, Andrew M Janczak, Ruth M Marchant-Forde, Jeremy N Marchant-Forde, Donald L Matthews, Carol A Dowell, Daniel F Hogan, Lynetta J Freeman, Donald C Lay
Physiology & Behavior 2011 May 3, 103 (2): 188-96
21281655
Understanding autonomic nervous system functioning, which mediates behavioral and physiological responses to stress, offers great potential for assessing farm animal stress and welfare. Evaluation of heart rate variability (HRV) and blood pressure variability (BPV), using time and frequency domain analyses may provide a sensitive and reliable measure of affective states and stress-mediated changes in sympathetic and parasympathetic tones. The aim of this research was to define low (LF) and high frequency (HF) power spectral ranges using pharmacological autonomic blockade, and to examine HRV and BPV parameter changes in response to atropine and propranolol in swine. Ten, 13-week old, barrows (n=6) and gilts (n=4) underwent surgery to place an intra-cardiac electrode and a blood pressure catheter attached to a biotelemetric transmitter; pigs had a 3-week recovery period prior to data collection. Each pig was subjected to administration of 4 intravenous (i.v.) drug treatments: a control treatment, 3 mL of saline, and 3 blockade treatments; 0.1 mg/kg of atropine, 1.0 mg/kg of propranolol, and .1 mg/kg of atropine together with 1.0 mg/kg of propranolol. All treatments were delivered by injection in the jugular vein with a minimum of 48 h between individual treatments. Behavior, ECG and blood pressure data were recorded continuously for a total of 1h, from 30 min pre-injection to 30 min post-injection. For data analyses, two 512-beat intervals were selected for each treatment while the pig was lying and inactive. The first interval was selected from the pre-injection period (baseline), and the second was selected between 10 and 30 min post-injection. Time and frequency domain (power spectral density) analyses were performed on each data interval. Subsequent, LF and HF bands from the power spectral densities were defined based on general linear and regression analyses. The HRV and BPV were computed with a covariate (baseline) factorial analysis of treatment by sex interaction, and day of injection, with mixed models and Tukey's post-hoc tests. The best-fit range for LF was 0.0-0.09 Hz, and HF was 0.09-2.0 Hz (r²: 0.41 and 0.43, respectively). Propranolol and saline injections led to a greater overall total power and overall higher inter-beat interval, HF and LF power. Atropine led to a dominant sympathovagal balance of the cardiac activity in pigs. In addition, atropine led to an increase in LF power of both systolic and diastolic blood pressures in gilts suggesting vagal tone mediation of BPV. The understanding of autonomic regulation of HRV and BPV in domestic swine facilitates our ability to detect and quantify stress responses, and broadens its application in assessing farm animal welfare.

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