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Dynamic Temporal Relationship Between Autonomic Function and Cerebrovascular Reactivity in Moderate/Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.

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Froese, Logan 
Gomez, Alwyn 
Sainbhi, Amanjyot Singh 
Batson, Carleen 
Stein, Kevin 


There has been little change in morbidity and mortality in traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the last 25 years. However, literature has emerged linking impaired cerebrovascular reactivity (a surrogate of cerebral autoregulation) with poor outcomes post-injury. Thus, cerebrovascular reactivity (derived through the pressure reactivity index; PRx) is emerging as an important continuous measure. Furthermore, recent literature indicates that autonomic dysfunction may drive impaired cerebrovascular reactivity in moderate/severe TBI. Thus, to improve our understanding of this association, we assessed the physiological relationship between PRx and the autonomic variables of heart rate variability (HRV), blood pressure variability (BPV), and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) using time-series statistical methodologies. These methodologies include vector autoregressive integrative moving average (VARIMA) impulse response function analysis, Granger causality, and hierarchical clustering. Granger causality testing displayed inconclusive results, where PRx and the autonomic variables had varying bidirectional relationships. Evaluating the temporal profile of the impulse response function plots demonstrated that the autonomic variables of BRS, ratio of low/high frequency of HRV and very low frequency HRV all had a strong relation to PRx, indicating that the sympathetic autonomic response may be more closely linked to cerebrovascular reactivity, then other variables. Finally, BRS was consistently associated with PRx, possibly demonstrating a deeper relationship to PRx than other autonomic measures. Taken together, cerebrovascular reactivity and autonomic response are interlinked, with a bidirectional impact between cerebrovascular reactivity and circulatory autonomics. However, this work is exploratory and preliminary, with further study required to extract and confirm any underlying relationships.



autonomic nervous system responses, causality testing, cerebrovascular reactivity (CVRx), time series analysis, traumatic brain injury

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Front Netw Physiol

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Frontiers Media SA