Postnatal Development of the Putative Neuropeptide-Y-Mediated Sympathetic-Parasympathetic Autonomic Interaction

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Objective: Intense stellate ganglion stimulation causes a long-lasting inhibition of cardiac vagal responses in adult dogs. This inhibition is thought to result from the release of neuropeptide Y from sympathetic nerve terminals, which, in turn, blocks the release of acetylcholine from parasympathetic neurons. The purpose of this study was to characterize the developmental expression of this autonomic interaction in the dog. Methods: We studied and compared the effects of 5-min trains of right stellate ganglion stimulation on cardiac chronotropic responses to supramaximal vagal stimulation trains in 10 neonatal dogs, 8 one-month-old puppies, 8 two-month-old puppies and 8 adult dogs. Results: In the adult group, after 5 min of stellate stimulation, inhibition of the vagal chronotropic response was observed in 7 of 8 (87.5%). Inhibition was observed in 100% of the one-month-olds and in 87.5% of the two-month-olds. In contrast, in the neonates, inhibition was observed in only 4 of 10 (40%) (P < 0.05). The maximum percent inhibition of the cardiac vagal response was significantly less in the neonates than in the older puppies (P < 0.001) and adults (P < 0.01), and the summated inhibition also tended to be less in the neonates (P < 0.05 compared to one- and two-month-old puppies). Finally, in 60% of the neonates and 37.5% of all other animals vagal responses after stellate stimulation were facilitated, i.e. at least 20% greater than the pre-stellate stimulation values. Conclusion: The putative neuropeptide-Y-mediated, sympathetic-parasympathetic interaction is not fully expressed in the canine neonate. It appears to develop quite rapidly postnatally, being fully expressed by 1 month of age. We hypothesize that this developmental change is likely the result of maturation of sympathetic nervous system function after birth. The facilitation of the vagal chronotropic response, observed in some animals after stellate stimulation, is a new finding, and may represent yet another type of autonomic interaction.



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