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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 Aug;299(2):H422-30. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00256.2010. Epub 2010 May 28.

Central neuronal activation and pressor responses induced by circulating ANG II: role of the brain aldosterone-"ouabain" pathway.

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  • 1Hypertension Unit, Univ. of Ottawa Heart Institute, H3228, 40 Ruskin St., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1Y 4W7.


An increase in plasma ANG II causes neuronal activation in hypothalamic nuclei and a slow pressor response, presumably by increasing sympathetic drive. We evaluated whether the activation of a neuromodulatory pathway, involving aldosterone and "ouabain," is involved in these responses. In Wistar rats, the subcutaneous infusion of ANG II at 150 and 500 ng x kg(-1) x min(-1) gradually increased blood pressure up to 60 mmHg at the highest dose. ANG II at 500 ng x kg(-1) x min(-1) increased plasma ANG II by 4-fold, plasma aldosterone by 25-fold, and hypothalamic aldosterone by 3-fold. The intracerebroventricular infusion of an aldosterone synthase (AS) inhibitor prevented the ANG II-induced increase in hypothalamic aldosterone without affecting the increase in plasma aldosterone. Neuronal activity, as assessed by Fra-like immunoreactivity, increased transiently in the subfornical organ (SFO) but progressively in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and supraoptic nucleus (SON). The central infusion of the AS inhibitor or a mineralocorticoid receptor blocker markedly attenuated the ANG II-induced neuronal activation in the PVN but not in the SON. Pressor responses to ANG II at 150 ng x kg(-1) x min(-1) were abolished by an intracerebroventricular infusion of the AS inhibitor. Pressor responses to ANG II at 500 ng x kg(-1) x min(-1) were attenuated by the central infusion of the AS inhibitor or the mineralocorticoid receptor blocker by 70-80% and by Digibind (to bind "ouabain") by 50%. These results suggest a novel central nervous system mechanism for the ANG II-induced slow pressor response, i.e., circulating ANG II activates the SFO, leading to the direct activation of the PVN and SON, and, in addition, via aldosterone-dependent amplifying mechanisms, causes sustained activation of the PVN and thereby hypertension.

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