Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) released from the gut functions as an incretin that stimulates insulin secretion. GLP-1 is also a brain neuropeptide that controls feeding and drinking behavior and gastric emptying and elicits neuroendocrine responses including development of conditioned taste aversion. Although GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists are under development for the treatment of diabetes, GLP-1 administration may increase blood pressure and heart rate in vivo. We report here that centrally and peripherally administered GLP-1R agonists dose-dependently increased blood pressure and heart rate. GLP-1R activation induced c-fos expression in the adrenal medulla and neurons in autonomic control sites in the rat brain, including medullary catecholamine neurons providing input to sympathetic preganglionic neurons. Furthermore, GLP-1R agonists rapidly activated tyrosine hydroxylase transcription in brainstem catecholamine neurons. These findings suggest that the central GLP-1 system represents a regulator of sympathetic outflow leading to downstream activation of cardiovascular responses in vivo.
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