Interoceptive signals from the heart and coronary circulation in health and disease

Author: Jonathan P Moore1
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> Bangor University, Wales, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Conference/Journal: Auton Neurosci
Date published: 2024 Apr 24
Other: Volume ID: 253 , Pages: 103180 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2024.103180. , Word Count: 272

This review considers interoceptive signalling from the heart and coronary circulation. Vagal and cardiac sympathetic afferent sensory nerve endings are distributed throughout the atria, ventricles (mainly left), and coronary artery. A small proportion of cardiac receptors attached to thick myelinated vagal afferents are tonically active during the cardiac cycle. Dependent upon location, these mechanoreceptors detect fluctuations in atrial volume and coronary arterial perfusion. Atrial volume and coronary arterial signals contribute to beat-to-beat feedback control and physiological homeostasis. Most cardiac receptors are attached to thinly myelinated or nonmyelinated C fibres, many of which are unresponsive to the cardiac cycle. Of these, there are many chemically sensitive cardiac receptors which are activated during myocardial stress by locally released endogenous substances. In contrast, some tonically inactive receptors become activated by irregular ventricular wall mechanics or by distortion of the ischaemic myocardium. Furthermore, some are excited both by chemical mediators of ischaemia and wall abnormalities. Reflex responses arising from cardiac receptors attached to thinly myelinated or nonmyelinated are complex. Impulses that project centrally through vagal afferents elicit sympathoinhibition and hypotension, whereas impulses travelling in cardiac sympathetic afferents and spinal pathways elicit sympathoexcitation and hypertension. Two opposing cardiac reflexes may provide a mechanism for fine-tuning a composite haemodynamic response during myocardial stress. Sympathetic afferents provide the primary pathway for transmission of cardiac nociception to the central nervous system. However, activation of sympathetic afferents may increase susceptibility to life-threatening arrhythmias. Notably, the cardiac sympathetic afferent reflex predominates in pathophysiological states including hypertension and heart failure.

Keywords: Atrial volume receptors; Bainbridge reflex; Bezold Jarisch effect; Cardiac nociception; Cardiac sympathetic afferent reflex; Coronary mechanoreceptors; Vagal reflexes.

PMID: 38677129 DOI: 10.1016/j.autneu.2024.103180