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Brain Res. 2008 Mar 4;1197:170-80. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2007.12.045. Epub 2007 Dec 31.

Morphology and morphometry of the vagus nerve in male and female spontaneously hypertensive rats.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, Av. Bandeirantes 3900, 14049-900, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


The vagus nerve is an important component of the efferent arm of the baroreflex. Blood pressure levels as well as baroreflex control of circulation are significantly different in male and female spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). We proposed to investigate the morphometric differences between genders using the vagus nerve of SHR. Adult animals (20 weeks old) were anesthetized and had their arterial pressure (AP) and heart rate (HR) recorded by a computerized system. The rats were then systemically perfused with a fixative solution and had their cervical vagi nerves prepared for light microscopy. Proximal and distal segments of the left and right vagi nerves were evaluated for morphometric parameters including fascicle area and diameter, myelinated fiber number, density, area and diameter. Comparisons were made between sides and segments on the same gender as well as between genders. Differences were considered significant when p<0.05. Male SHR had significantly higher AP and HR. Morphometric data showed no differences between the same levels of both sides and between segments on the same side for male and female rats. In addition, no significant morphometric differences were observed when genders were compared. This is the first description of vagus nerve morphometry in SHR indicating that gender differences in AP and HR cannot be attributed to dissimilarities in vagal innervation of the heart. These data provide a morphological basis for further studies involving functional investigations of the efferent arm of the baroreflex in hypertension.

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