1. Pulsatile changes in the diameter of the common carotid artery were studied transcutaneously using an echo-tracking technique in 15 normal subjects: eight subjects before and during application of graded lower-body negative pressure from −5 to −15 mmHg, and seven subjects before and during weight-bearing head-up tilt at 30 and 60 degrees.
2. In concomitant studies of changes in forearm vascular resistance, it was seen that mild lower-body negative pressure produced deactivation of cardiopulmonary receptors without changes in systemic blood pressure or heart rate.
3. After lower-body negative pressure, a significant decrease in carotid arterial diastolic diameter [from 0.662 ± 0.028 to 0.624 ± 0.033 cm (lower-body negative pressure −10 mmHg) and 0.640 ± 0.030 cm lower-body negative pressure −15 mmHg), P<0.001 and <0.05] was observed.
4. After head-up tilt, carotid arterial diameter was also significantly decreased at 30 and 60 degrees, whereas a significant increase in heart rate occurred only at 60 degrees and mean blood pressure did not change.
5. The study provides evidence that the geometry of the arterial wall is substantially modified by noninvasive manoeuvres such as head-up tilting and lower-body negative pressure. The latter is assumed to selectively deactivate human cardiopulmonary receptors, but the present data suggest that local changes may also influence carotid baroreceptors.