OUP user menu

Control of sympathetic vasomotor tone by catecholaminergic C1 neurones of the rostral ventrolateral medulla oblongata

Nephtali Marina, Ana P.L. Abdala, Alla Korsak, Annabel E. Simms, Andrew M. Allen, Julian F.R. Paton, Alexander V. Gourine
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvr128 703-710 First published online: 4 May 2011


Aims Increased sympathetic tone in obstructive sleep apnoea results from recurrent episodes of systemic hypoxia and hypercapnia and might be an important contributor to the development of cardiovascular disease. In this study, we re-evaluated the role of a specific population of sympathoexcitatory catecholaminergic C1 neurones of the rostral ventrolateral medulla oblongata in the control of sympathetic vasomotor tone, arterial blood pressure, and hypercapnia-evoked sympathetic and cardiovascular responses.

Methods and results In anaesthetized rats in vivo and perfused rat working heart brainstem preparations in situ, C1 neurones were acutely silenced by application of the insect peptide allatostatin following cell-specific targeting with a lentiviral vector to express the inhibitory Drosophila allatostatin receptor. In anaesthetized rats with denervated peripheral chemoreceptors, acute inhibition of 50% of the C1 neuronal population resulted in ∼50% reduction in renal sympathetic nerve activity and a profound fall in arterial blood pressure (by ∼25 mmHg). However, under these conditions systemic hypercapnia still evoked vigorous sympathetic activation and the slopes of the CO2-evoked sympathoexcitatory and cardiovascular responses were not affected by inhibition of C1 neurones. Inhibition of C1 neurones in situ resulted in a reversible fall in perfusion pressure and the amplitude of respiratory-related bursts of thoracic sympathetic nerve activity.

Conclusion These data confirm a fundamental physiological role of medullary catecholaminergic C1 neurones in maintaining resting sympathetic vasomotor tone and arterial blood pressure. However, C1 neurones do not appear to mediate sympathoexcitation evoked by central actions of CO2.

  • Sympathetic
  • Arterial blood pressure
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Hypercapnia
  • Lentivirus

The online version of this article has been published under an open access model. Users are entitled to use, reproduce, disseminate, or display the open access version of this article for non-commercial purposes provided that the original authorship is properly and fully attributed; the Journal, Learned Society and Oxford University Press are attributed as the original place of publication with correct citation details given; if an article is subsequently reproduced or disseminated not in its entirety but only in part or as a derivative work this must be clearly indicated. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com.

View Full Text