Neuronal nitric oxide synthase expression is lower in areas of the nucleus tractus solitarius excited by skeletal muscle reflexes in hypertensive rats

Megan N. Murphy, Masaki Mizuno, Ryan M. Downey, John J. Squiers, Kathryn E. Squiers, Scott A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The functions of the skeletal muscle exercise pressor reflex (EPR) and its mechanically sensitive component are augmented in hypertension producing exaggerated increases in blood pressure during exercise. Afferent information from the EPR is processed in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS). Within the NT, nitric oxide (NO), produced via L-arginine oxidation by neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), buffers the pressor response to EPR activation. Therefore, EPR overactivity may manifest as a decrease in NO production due to reductions in nNOS. We hypothesized that nNOS protein expression is lower in the NTS of spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) compared with normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. Further, we examined whether nNOS is expressed with FOS, a marker of neuronal excitation induced by EPR activation. The EPR and mechanoreflex were intermittently activated for 1 h via hindlimb static contraction or stretch, respectively. These maneuvers produced significantly greater pressor responses in SHR during the first 25 min of stimulation. Within the NTS, nNOS expression was lower from -14.9 to -13.4 bregma in SHR compared with WKY. For example, at -14.5 bregma the number of NTS nNOS-positive cells in SHR (13 ± 1) was significantly less than WKY (23 ± 2). However, the number of FOS-positive cells after muscle contraction in this area was not different (WKY = 82 ± 18; SHR = 75 ± 8). In both groups, FOS-expressing neurons were located within the same areas of the NTS as neurons containing nNOS. These findings demonstrate that nNOS protein expression is lower within NTS areas excited by skeletal muscle reflexes in hypertensive rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1547-H1557
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Volume304
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 13 2013

Keywords

  • Exercise
  • Hypertension
  • Nucleus tractus solitarius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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