In the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), angiotensin II-derived superoxide anions, which increase sympathetic nerve activity, induce a pressor response by activating the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway. The small G protein Ras mediates a caspase-3-dependent apoptotic pathway through p38 MAPK, ERK, and c-Jun N-terminal kinase. We hypothesized that angiotensin II type 1 receptors activate caspase-3 through the Ras/p38 MAPK/ERK/c-Jun N-terminal kinase pathway in the RVLM and that this pathway is involved in sympathoexcitation in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP), a model of human hypertension. The activities of Ras, p38 MAPK, ERK, and caspase-3 in the RVLM were significantly higher in SHRSP (14 to 16 weeks old) than in age-matched Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). The mitochondrial apoptotic proteins Bax and Bad in the RVLM were significantly increased in SHRSP compared with WKY. c-Jun N-terminal kinase activity did not differ between SHRSP and WKY. In SHRSP, intracerebroventricular infusion of a Ras inhibitor significantly reduced sympathetic nerve activity and improved baroreflex sensitivity, partially because of inhibition of the Ras/p38 MAPK/ERK, Bax, Bad, and caspase-3 pathway in the RVLM. Intracerebroventricular infusion of a caspase-3 inhibitor also inhibited sympathetic nerve activity and improved baroreflex sensitivity in SHRSP. Intracerebroventricular infusion of an angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker in SHRSP partially inhibited the Ras/p38 MAPK/ERK, Bax, Bad, and caspase-3 pathway in the RVLM. These findings suggest that in SHRSP, angiotensin II type 1 receptor-activated caspase-3 acting through the Ras/p38 MAPK/ERK pathway in the RVLM might be involved in sympathoexcitation, which in turn plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of hypertension.
|Number of pages
|Published - Feb 2010
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Internal Medicine