Cardiac sympathetic afferent stimulation induces salt-sensitive sympathoexcitation through hypothalamic epithelial Na+ channel activation

Koji Ito, Yoshitaka Hirooka, Kenji Sunagawa

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The cardiac sympathetic afferent (CSA), which plays an important role in heart-brain communication for sympathoexcitation, is stimulated in heart failure. Additionally, high salt intake leads to further sympathoexcitation due to activation of hypothalamic epithelial Na+ channels (ENaCs) in heart failure. In the present study, we stimulated the CSA in adult male mice by epicardial application of capsaicin and using ethanol as a control to determine whether CSA stimulation led to activation of hypothalamic ENaCs, resulting in salt-induced sympathoexcitation. Three days after capsaicin treatment, an upregulation of hypothalamic α-ENaCs, without activation of mineralocorticoid receptors, was observed. We also examined expression levels of the known ENaC activator TNF-α. Hypothalamic TNF-α increased in capsaicin-treated mice, whereas intracerebroventricular infusion of the TNF-α blocker etanercept prevented capsaicin-induced upregulation of α-ENaCs. To examine brain arterial pressure (AP) sensitivity toward Na+, we performed an intracerebroventricular infusion of high Na+-containing (0.2 M) artificial cerebrospinal fluid. AP and heart rate were significantly increased in capsaicin-treated mice compared with control mice. CSA stimulation also caused excitatory responses with high salt intake. Compared with a regular salt diet, the high-salt diet augmented AP, heart rate, and 24-h urinary norepinephrine excretion, which is an indirect marker of sympathetic activity with mineralocorticoid receptor activation, in capsaicin-treated mice but not in ethanol-treated mice. Treatment with etanercept or the ENaC blocker benzamil prevented these salt-induced excitatory responses. In summary, we show that CSA stimulation leads to an upregulation of hypothalamic α-ENaCs mediated via an increase in TNF-α and results in increased salt sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H530-H539
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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