Vagal and sympathetic function in neuropathic postural tachycardia syndrome

Giris Jacob, Laura Diedrich, Kyoko Sato, Robert J. Brychta, Satish R. Raj, David Robertson, Italo Biaggioni, André Diedrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diagnosis of neuropathic postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) requires research techniques not available clinically. We hypothesized that these patients will have impaired vagal and sympathetic cardiovascular control that can be characterized with clinical autonomic tests. We included 12 POTS patients with possible neuropathic subtype because of normal plasma norepinephrine and no increase in upright blood pressure. We compared them to 10 healthy subjects. We assessed hemodynamics, heart rate and blood pressure variability, baroreflex sensitivity, raw and integrated muscle sympathetic nerve activity, and blood volume. To understand the vagal/sympathetic control, we dissected the phase 2 of Valsalva maneuver (VM) into early (VM2e) and late (VM2l). POTS' upright heart rate increased 43±3 bpm. Patients had normal plasma volume but reduced red blood cell volume (1.29 L versus predicted normal values 1.58 L; P=0.02). Vagal indices of heart rate variability, HFRRI (430±130 versus 1680±900; P=0.04), PNN50, and root mean squared of successive differences were lower in POTS. Patients showed a decrease in vagal baroreflex sensitivity (VM2e; P=0.04). In POTS, integrated muscle sympathetic nerve activity was lower at rest (12±1.5 versus 20±2 burst/min; P=0.004) and raw muscle sympathetic nerve activity spike analysis showed blunted responses during VM2e, despite a greater drop in systolic blood pressure (34±5 in POTS and 14±6 mm Hg in controls; P=0.01). This cohort of POTS patients enriched for possible neuropathic subtype had lower resting muscle sympathetic nerve activity, impaired vagal cardiac control, and exaggerated drop in blood pressure in response to VM and a delay in the sympathetic cardiovascular responsiveness during hypotensive challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1096
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • baroreflex
  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • tachycardia
  • Valsalva maneuver


Dive into the research topics of 'Vagal and sympathetic function in neuropathic postural tachycardia syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this