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Publication - Professor Julian Paton

    Differences in autonomic innervation to the vertebrobasilar arteries in spontaneously hypertensive and Wistar rats

    Citation

    Roloff, Ev, Walas, D, Moraes, DJ, Kasparov, S & Paton, JF, 2018, ‘Differences in autonomic innervation to the vertebrobasilar arteries in spontaneously hypertensive and Wistar rats’. Journal of Physiology, vol 596., pp. 3505-3529

    Abstract

    Key points: Essential hypertension is associated with hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system and hypoperfusion of the brainstem area controlling arterial pressure. Sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation of vertebrobasilar arteries may regulate blood perfusion to the brainstem. We examined the autonomic innervation of these arteries in pre-hypertensive (PHSH) and hypertensive spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rats relative to age-matched Wistar rats. Our main findings were: (1) an unexpected decrease in noradrenergic sympathetic innervation in PHSH and SH compared to Wistar rats despite elevated sympathetic drive in PHSH rats; (2) a dramatic deficit in cholinergic and peptidergic parasympathetic innervation in PHSH and SH compared to Wistar rats; and (3) denervation of sympathetic fibres did not alter vertebrobasilar artery morphology or arterial pressure. Our results support a compromised vasodilatory capacity in PHSH and SH rats compared to Wistar rats, which may explain their hypoperfused brainstem. Abstract: Neurogenic hypertension may result from brainstem hypoperfusion. We previously found remodelling (decreased lumen, increased wall thickness) in vertebrobasilar arteries of juvenile, pre-hypertensive spontaneously hypertensive (PHSH) and adult spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rats compared to age-matched normotensive rats. We tested the hypothesis that there would be a greater density of sympathetic to parasympathetic innervation of vertebrobasilar arteries in SH versus Wistar rats irrespective of the stage of development and that sympathetic denervation (ablation of the superior cervical ganglia bilaterally) would reverse the remodelling and lower blood pressure. Contrary to our hypothesis, immunohistochemistry revealed a decrease in the innervation density of noradrenergic sympathetic fibres in adult SH rats (P < 0.01) compared to Wistar rats. Unexpectedly, there was a 65% deficit in parasympathetic fibres, as assessed by both vesicular acetylcholine transporter (α-VAChT) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (α-VIP) immunofluorescence (P < 0.002) in PHSH rats compared to age-matched Wistar rats. Although the neural activity of the internal cervical sympathetic branch, which innervates the vertebrobasilar arteries, was higher in PHSH relative to Wistar rats, its denervation had no effect on the vertebrobasilar artery morphology or persistent effect on arterial pressure in SH rats. Our neuroanatomic and functional data do not support a role for sympathetic nerves in remodelling of the vertebrobasilar artery wall in PHSH or SH rats. The remodelling of vertebrobasilar arteries and the elevated activity in the internal cervical sympathetic nerve coupled with their reduced parasympathetic innervation suggests a compromised vasodilatory capacity in PHSH and SH rats that could explain their brainstem hypoperfusion.

    Full details in the University publications repository