Elevated sympathetic outflow and altered autonomic reflexes, including impaired baroreflex function, are common findings observed in hypertensive disorders. Although a growing body of evidence supports a contribution of preautonomic neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) to altered autonomic control during hypertension, the precise underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we aimed to determine whether the intrinsic excitability and repetitive firing properties of preautonomic PVN neurons that innervate the nucleus tractus solitarii (PVN-NTS neurons) were altered in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Moreover, given that exercise training is known to improve and/or correct autonomic deficits in hypertensive conditions, we evaluated whether exercise is an efficient behavioral approach to correct altered neuronal excitability in hypertensive rats. Patch-clamp recordings were obtained from retrogradely labeled PVN-NTS neurons in hypothalamic slices obtained from sedentary (S) and trained (T) Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) and SHR rats. Our results indicate an increased excitability of PVN-NTS neurons in SHR-S rats, reflected by an enhanced input-output function in response to depolarizing stimuli, a hyperpolarizing shift in Na+ spike threshold, and smaller hyperpolarizing afterpotentials. Importantly, we found exercise training in SHR rats to restore all these parameters back to those levels observed in WKY-S rats. In several cases, exercise evoked opposing effects in WKY-S rats compared with SHR-S rats, suggesting that exercise effects on PVN-NTS neurons are state dependent. Taken together, our results suggest that elevated preautonomic PVN-NTS neuronal excitability may contribute to altered autonomic control in SHR rats and that exercise training efficiently corrects these abnormalities.
- Hypothalamic preautonomic neurons
- Nucleus tractus solitarii
ASJC Scopus subject areas