Autonomic influences on atrioventricular conduction in conscious dogs

J. X. Thomas, W. C. Randall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Autonomic innervation of the atrioventricular (AV) junction modulates conduction of the cardiac impulse, the sympathetic nerves facilitating and parasympathetic nerves impeding conduction. Experiments assessed the relative importance of parasympathetic vs. sympathetic control by pharmacologic blockade with atropine (0.2 mg/kg) or propranolol (1.0 mg/kg) while pacing the right atrium (100-400 beats/min) in normal, conscious resting dogs and in dogs that had undergone chronic, intrapericardial cardiac denervation. Maximum pacing rate with 1:1 atroventricular conduction was termed R(max). Control R(max) at rest was 125.69 ± 9.49 beats/min and was slightly reduced after propranolol to 118.28 ± 10.98 (P = 0.043). After atropine, R(max) was significantly increased to 344 beats/min. Propranolol and atropine together resulted in an R(max) of 308 beats/min, which was significantly less than after atropine alone. R(max) in cardiac-denervated dogs was 301 beats/min, which was not significantly different from that following total pharmacologic blockade. In contrast, resting, unsedated dogs, the upper limit of AV nodal conduction is associated with the level of parasympathetic rather than sympathetic tone; during exercise the sympathetics assume greater importance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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