Sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity results in potent cerebral hypoperfusion in swine



      Cerebral vasospasm is a complex disease resulting in reversible narrowing of blood vessels, stroke, and poor patient outcomes. Sympathetic perivascular nerve fibers originate from the superior cervical ganglion (SCG) to innervate the cerebral vasculature, with activation resulting in vasoconstriction. Sympathetic pathways are thought to be a significant contributor to cerebral vasospasm.


      We sought to demonstrate that stimulation of SCG in swine can cause ipsilateral cerebral perfusion deficit similar to that of significant human cerebral vasospasm. Furthermore, we aimed to show that inhibition of SCG can block the effects of sympathetic-mediated cerebral hypoperfusion.


      SCG were surgically identified in 15 swine and were electrically stimulated to achieve sympathetic activation. CT perfusion scans were performed to assess for changes in cerebral blood flow (CBF), cerebral blood volume (CBV), mean transit time (MTT) and time-to-maximum (TMax). Syngo.via software was used to determine regions of interest and quantify perfusion measures.


      SCG stimulation resulted in 20–30% reduction in mean ipsilateral CBF compared to its contralateral unaffected side (p < 0.001). Similar results of hypoperfusion were seen with CBV, MTT and TMax with SCG stimulation. Prior injection of lidocaine to SCG inhibited the effects of SCG stimulation and restored perfusion comparable to baseline (p > 0.05).


      In swine, SCG stimulation resulted in significant cerebral perfusion deficit, and this was inhibited by prior local anesthetic injection into the SCG. Inhibiting sympathetic activation by targeting the SCG may be an effective treatment for sympathetic mediated cerebral hypoperfusion.


      CBF (cerebral blood flow), CBV (cerebral blood volume), CTp (computed tomography perfusion), MTT (mean transit time), SCG (superior cervical ganglion), TMax (time to maximum)


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