Purpose: Hippocampal dysfunction plays a key role in the pathology of psychosis. Given hippocampal sensitivity to changes in cerebral perfusion, decreased baroreflex function could contribute to psychosis pathogenesis. This study had two aims: (1) To compare baroreflex sensitivity in participants with psychosis to two control groups: participants with a nonpsychotic affective disorder and participants with no history of psychiatric disease; (2) to examine the relationship between hippocampal neurometabolites and baroreflex sensitivities in these three groups. We hypothesized that baroreflex sensitivity would be reduced and correlated with hippocampal neurometabolite levels in participants with psychosis, but not in the control groups. Methods: We assessed baroreflex sensitivity during the Valsalva maneuver separated into vagal and adrenergic components. Metabolite concentrations for cellular processes were quantitated in the entire multivoxel hippocampus using H1-MR spectroscopic (MRS) imaging and were compared with baroreflex sensitivities in the three groups. Results: Vagal baroreflex sensitivity (BRS-V) was reduced in a significantly larger proportion of participants with psychosis compared with patients with nonpsychotic affective disorders, whereas participants with psychosis had increased adrenergic baroreflex sensitivity (BRS-A) compared with participants with no history of psychiatric disease. Only in psychotic cases were baroreflex sensitivities associated with hippocampal metabolite concentrations. Specifically, BRS-V was inversely correlated with myo-inositol, a marker of gliosis, and BRS-A was positively correlated with energy dependent dysmyelination (choline, creatine) and excitatory activity (GLX). Conclusions: Abnormal baroreflex sensitivity is common in participants with psychosis and is associated with MRS markers of hippocampal pathology. Future longitudinal studies are needed to examine causality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Autonomic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Baroreflex
  • H-MR spectroscopic (MRS)
  • Hippocampus
  • Inflammation


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