A comparison of autonomic responses in humans induced by two simulation models of weightlessness: Lower body positive pressure and 6°head-down tilt

Qi Fu, Yoshiki Sugiyama, Atsunori Kamiya, Tadaaki Mano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Six-degree head-down tilt (HDT) is well accepted as an effective weightlessness model in humans. However, some researchers utilized lower body positive pressure (LBPP) to simulate the cardiovascular and renal effects of a decreased gravitational stress. In order to determine whether LBPP was a suitable model for simulated weightlessness, we compared the differences between these two methods. Ten healthy males, aged 21-41 years, were subjected to graded LBPP at 10, 20 and 30 mmHg, as well as 6°HDT. Muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) was microneurographically recorded from the tibial nerve along with cardiovascular variables. We found that MSNA decreased by 27% to a similar extent both at low levels of LBPP (10 and 20 mmHg) and HDT. However, at a high level of LBPP (30 mmHg), MSNA tended to increase. Mean arterial pressure was elevated significantly by 11% (10 mmHg) at 30 mmHg LBPP, but remained unchanged at low levels of LBPP and HDT. Heart rate did not change during the entire LBPP and HDT procedures. Total peripheral resistance markedly increased by 36% at 30 mmHg LBPP, but decreased by 9% at HDT. Both stroke volume and cardiac output tended to decrease at 30 mmHg LBPP, but increased at HDT. These results suggest that although both LBPP and HDT induce fluid shifts from the lower body toward the thoracic compartment, autonomic responses are different, especially at LBPP greater than 20 mmHg. We note that high levels of LBPP (>20 mmHg) activate not only cardiopulmonary and arterial baroreflexes, but also intramuscular mechanoreflexes, while 6°HDT only activates cardiopulmonary baroreflexes. We conclude that LBPP is not a suitable model for simulated weightlessness in humans. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 12 2000
Externally publishedYes



  • Arterial baroreceptor
  • Cardiopulmonary baroreceptor
  • Intramuscular pressure-sensitive receptor
  • Muscle sympathetic nerve activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this