The present paper reviews the techniques allowing to assess sympathetic activity in humans, highlighting their
advantages and limitations. While plasma noradrenaline measurement represents a useful and widely used method to
evaluate sympathetic neural function, new approaches, developed starting from the seventies, like direct recording of
sympathetic nerve traffic and noradrenaline spillover. These approaches have largely supplanted the plasma noradrenaline
approach due to the precise estimation of the behavior of regional sympathetic neural function. The paper in particular
will focus the microneurographic technique, considered as the gold standard, and on the new clinical evidences obtained
with this technique.
Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases, microneurography, noradrenaline spillover, plasma noradrenaline, power spectral
analysis, sympathetic nervous system.
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