Recent studies have demonstrated that the Rho/Rho-kinase pathway plays an important role in various cellular functions, including actin cytoskeleton organization and vascular smooth muscle contraction. This pathway is also present in the central nervous system and is involved in the maintenance of dendritic spines and axon outgrowth and in the regulation of neurotransmitter release. However, its role in central blood pressure regulation is unknown. In the present study, blockade of the Rho/Rho-kinase pathway in the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) of the brain stem by microinjection of a specific Rho-kinase inhibitor decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and renal sympathetic nerve activity in both Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). However, the magnitude of decreases in these variables was greater in SHR than in WKY rats. In addition, an adenovirus vector encoding dominant-negative Rho-kinase decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and urinary norepinephrine excretion in both WKY rats and SHR in an awake and free-moving state. The magnitude of decreases in these variables was also greater in SHR than in WKY rats. Furthermore, membrane RhoA expression and Rho-kinase activity in the NTS were enhanced in SHR compared with WKY rats. These observations indicate that the Rho/Rho-kinase pathway in the NTS contributes to blood pressure regulation via the sympathetic nervous system in vivo and suggest that activation of this pathway is involved in the central mechanisms of hypertension.
|Number of pages
|Published - Jun 27 2003
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine