Clinical autonomic research : official journal of the Clinical Autonomic Research Society, Volume 34, Issue 1, 23 4 2024, Pages 45-77 The relevance of the superior cervical ganglion for cardiac autonomic innervation in health and disease: a systematic review. Chen HS, van Roon L, Ge Y, van Gils JM, Schoones JW, DeRuiter MC, Zeppenfeld K, Jongbloed MRM


The heart receives cervical and thoracic sympathetic contributions. Although the stellate ganglion is considered the main contributor to cardiac sympathetic innervation, the superior cervical ganglia (SCG) is used in many experimental studies. The clinical relevance of the SCG to cardiac innervation is controversial. We investigated current morphological and functional evidence as well as controversies on the contribution of the SCG to cardiac innervation.


A systematic literature review was conducted in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and COCHRANE Library. Included studies received a full/text review and quality appraisal.


Seventy-six eligible studies performed between 1976 and 2023 were identified. In all species studied, morphological evidence of direct or indirect SCG contribution to cardiac innervation was found, but its contribution was limited. Morphologically, SCG sidedness may be relevant. There is indirect functional evidence that the SCG contributes to cardiac innervation as shown by its involvement in sympathetic overdrive reactions in cardiac disease states. A direct functional contribution was not found. Functional data on SCG sidedness was largely unavailable. Information about sex differences and pre- and postnatal differences was lacking.


Current literature mainly supports an indirect involvement of the SCG in cardiac innervation, via other structures and plexuses or via sympathetic overdrive in response to cardiac diseases. Morphological evidence of a direct involvement was found, but its contribution seems limited. The relevance of SCG sidedness, sex, and developmental stage in health and disease remains unclear and warrants further exploration.

Clin Auton Res. 2024 2;34(1):45-77