1. The effects of intravenous administration of neostigmine and propranolol, individually or in combination, on baroreflex responsiveness have been evaluated in 18 borderline hypertensive subjects and in 14 age-matched control subjects.

2. Baroreceptor sensitivity was tested by evaluating both heart rate response to phenylephrine-induced increase in arterial pressure, and heart rate and blood pressure changes induced by increasing neck-tissue pressure by means of a neck-chamber.

3. In borderline hypertensive subjects a reduced baroreflex responsiveness was demonstrated with both stimuli as compared with normal subjects. Neostigmine administration improved consistently both reflex responses. Similarly, after propranolol treatment, borderline hypertensive subjects showed a significant enhancement of the baroreflex sensitivity. Finally, the combined administration of neostigmine and propranolol restored the baroreflex responses. In fact, both the mean slopes of the regression lines between blood pressure and R-R interval after phenylephrine and the increase in mean arterial pressure and heart rate induced by the reduction in carotid transmural pressure in borderline hypertensive subjects were similar to those observed in normals.

4. These findings indicate that in borderline hypertensive subjects the impairment of baroreflex responsiveness is mainly due to abnormalities of autonomic regulation.

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