The baroreceptor reflex emanating from the carotid sinus and common carotid artery of the sheep : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Physiology at Massey University
The aim of this project was to improve understanding of the role of the common carotid arterial baroreceptor mechanism in controlling peripheral blood pressure in the sheep. The responses to clamping of one or both common carotid arteries were examined under chloralose anaesthesia with the vagus nerves intact and after they had been sectioned. Unilateral clamping of a common carotid artery immediately reduced the mean blood pressure and pulse pressure in the ipsilateral carotid sinus and raised the peripheral mean blood pressure and pulse pressure. The failure of sinus pressures to show any recovery in the clamped vessel suggests that there was minimal flow through anastomoses into the occluded artery. Bilateral clamping of the common carotid arteries reduced the mean blood pressure within both carotid sinuses to a lower level than unilateral clamping, but raised the peripheral mean blood pressure and pulse pressures to a greater degree. This pressor response was interpreted as being due to the larger population of baroreceptors detecting the low carotid sinus pressures during bilateral occlusion. To test whether there was a tendency for common carotid arterial clamping at different levels to produce different reflex responses of peripheral blood pressure, the carotid arteries were occluded at the caudal, mid- and cranial cervical levels. There was a trend towards a greater rise in peripheral mean blood pressure during caudal clamping compared with cranial clamping. This too may be due to a larger population of baroreceptors detecting the low carotid sinus and common carotid arterial pressures and suggests baroreceptors are distributed in regions of the common carotid artery caudal to the sinus. In one third of the sheep, clamping the left common carotid artery caused a greater rise in peripheral mean blood pressure than clampinq of the right vessel. Possible reasons for this include the presence of a larger population of baroreceptors in the left artery than the right and differences in the sensitivity of receptors in the two vessels. The variability of responses to clamping and vagotomy was emphasised by the responses of two sheep in which section of the right vagus nerve totally abolished the reflex response to right common carotid arterial occlusion. Since in these animals neither the size of the baroreceptor population nor its sensitivity appeared to be responsible, a conclusion consistent with the evidence is that the baroreceptors in the vessel were innervated by the recurrent laryngeal or vagus nerves. Overall in the experiments, bilateral vagotomy enhanced the peripheral mean blood pressure and pulse pressure responses to clamping the common carotid arteries in keeping with a loss of the input from the aortic arch and cardio-pulmonary baroreceptors. Histological evidence of the distribution of sensory areas along the common carotid artery was obtained for three discrete areas (A, B and C). It is suggested that baroreceptors located in the common carotid artery may be less sensitive than those in the carotid sinus region because of the low elastin content and lack of tunica medial thinning at the sites of carotid arterial baroreceptor innervation.