Effects of age and sex on vasomotor activity and baroreflex sensitivity during the sleep–wake cycle

Chia Hsin Yeh, Terry B.J. Kuo, Jia Yi Li, Kuan Liang Kuo, Chang Ming Chern*, Cheryl C.H. Yang*, Hsin Yi Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiovascular function is related to age, sex, and state of consciousness. We hypothesized that cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity (BRS) demonstrates different patterns in both sexes before and after 50 years of age and that these patterns are associated with patterned changes during the sleep–wake cycle. We recruited 67 healthy participants (aged 20–79 years; 41 women) and divided them into four age groups: 20–29, 30–49, 50–69, and 70–79 years. All the participants underwent polysomnography and blood pressure measurements. For each participant, we used the average of the arterial pressure variability, heart rate variability (HRV), and BRS parameters during the sleep–wake stages. BRS and HRV parameters were significantly negatively correlated with age. The BRS indexes were significantly lower in the participants aged ≥ 50 years than in those aged < 50 years, and these age-related declines were more apparent during non-rapid eye movement sleep than during wakefulness. Only BRS demonstrated a significantly negative correlation with age in participants ≥ 50 years old. Women exhibited a stronger association than men between BRS and age and an earlier decline in BRS. Changes in BRS varied with age, sex, and consciousness state, each demonstrating a specific pattern. The age of 50 years appeared to be a crucial turning point for sexual dimorphism in BRS. Baroreflex modulation of the cardiovascular system during sleep sensitively delineated the age- and sex-dependent BRS patterns, highlighting the clinical importance of our results. Our findings may aid in screening for neurocardiac abnormalities in apparently healthy individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22424
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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