Sleep-dependent changes in the coupling between heart period and blood pressure in human subjects

Alessandro Silvani*, Daniela Grimaldi, Stefano Vandi, Giorgio Barletta, Roberto Vetrugno, Federica Provini, Giulia Pierangeli, Chiara Berteotti, Pasquale Montagna, Giovanna Zoccoli, Pietro Cortelli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We investigated whether in human subjects, the pattern of coupling between the spontaneous fluctuations of heart period (HP) and those of systolic blood pressure (SBP) differs among wake-sleep states. Polysomnographic recordings and finger blood pressure measurements were performed for 48 h in 15 nonobese adults without sleep-disordered breathing. The cross-correlation function (CCF) between the fluctuations of HP and SBP at frequencies <0.15 Hz was computed during quiet wakefulness (QW), light (stages 1 and 2) and deep (stages 3 and 4) nonrapid-eye-movement sleep (NREMS), and rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMS). A positive correlation between HP and the previous SBP values, which is the expected result of baroreflex feedback control, was observed in the sleep states but not in QW. In deep NREMS, the maximum CCF value was significantly higher than in any other state, suggesting the greatest baroreflex contribution to the coupling between HP and SBP. A negative correlation between HP and the subsequent SBP values was also observed in each state, consistent with the mechanical feed-forward action of HP on SBP and with central autonomic commands. The contribution of these mechanisms to the coupling between HP and SBP, estimated from the minimum CCF value, was significantly lower in deep NREMS than either in light NREMS or QW. These results indicate that the pattern of coupling between HP and SBP at low frequencies differs among wake-sleep states in human subjects, with deep NREMS entailing the highest feedback contribution of the baroreflex and a low effectiveness of feed-forward mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1686-R1692
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Baroreflex
  • Central autonomic commands
  • Cross-correlation analysis
  • Feedback and feed-forward mechanisms
  • Sequence technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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