Cardiac Consequences of Autonomic Dysreflexia in Spinal Cord Injury
Autonomic dysreflexia (AD), which describes episodic hypertension, is highly prevalent in people with spinal cord injury (SCI). In non-SCI, primary hypertension depresses cardiac contractile reserve via β-adrenergic mechanisms. In this study, we investigated whether AD contributes to the impairment in cardiac contractile function that accompanies SCI. We induced SCI in rodents and stratified them into sham, SCI, or SCI plus repetitive induction of AD. At 6-week post-SCI, we assessed cardiac function using in vivo (speckle-tracking echocardiography), ex vivo (working heart), and molecular approaches (Western blot). We also provide unique translational insight by comparing the relationship between the number of daily AD events and cardiac function in 14 individuals with cervical SCI. We found SCI and SCI plus repetitive induction of AD exhibited a reduction in left ventricular dimensions at 6-week post-SCI versus preinjury (P<0.049). Compared with sham, SCI exhibited a reduction in peak radial strain along with a down and rightward shift in the Starling curve (P<0.037), both of which were further depressed in SCI plus repetitive induction of AD (P<0.042). In response to β-adrenergic stimulation, SCI plus repetitive induction of AD exhibited an attenuated increase in contractile indices (P<0.001), despite no differences in β-receptor expression within the left ventricle. Our clinical data confirm our experimental findings by demonstrating significant associations between the number of daily AD events and markers of systolic and diastolic function along with left ventricular mechanics. Here, we provide the first evidence from a translational perspective that AD exerts insidious effects on cardiac function in rodents and humans with SCI.
- Received May 28, 2016.
- Revision received June 10, 2016.
- Accepted September 8, 2016.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.