Role of reactive oxygen species in brainstem in neural mechanisms of hypertension

Yoshitaka Hirooka

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


The involvement of reactive oxygen species such as superoxide is implicated in the pathogenesis of hypertension. The brain contains a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids in its cell membranes. These fatty acids are targets of oxygen-derived free radicals. Thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS), an indirect marker of oxidative stress, are increased in the brainstem of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP) compared with those of Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). In addition, the intensity of electron spin resonance signals taken from the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), a cardiovascular center, decreases more rapidly in SHRSP than in WKY. To confirm the role of reactive oxygen species in the RVLM or the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) in SHRSP, we transfected adenovirus vectors encoding the manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) gene (AdMnSOD) or Cu/Zn-SOD gene (AdCu/ZnSOD) bilaterally into the RVLM or the NTS. After the gene transfer, blood pressure and heart rate of SHRSP, monitored by radio-telemetry system, were significantly decreased compared with non-treated SHRSP, but not WKY. Urinary norepinephrine excretion was significantly decreased in AdMnSOD- or AdCu/ZnSOD-transfected SHRSP, but not in WKY. Furthermore, we found that activation of NAD(P)H oxidase via Rac1 is a source of reactive oxygen species generation in the brain of hypertensive rats. Taken together, these results suggest that the increased oxidative stress in the RVLM and the NTS contribute to the central nervous system mechanisms underlying hypertension in SHRSP. We also found that atorvastatin has actions of reducing oxidative stress in the brain associated with sympatho-inhibitory effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-24
Number of pages5
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 3 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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