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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Apr;300(4):R818-26. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00426.2010. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Imbalance of central nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species in the regulation of sympathetic activity and neural mechanisms of hypertension.

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Fukuoka, Japan.


Nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) play important roles in blood pressure regulation via the modulation of the autonomic nervous system, particularly in the central nervous system (CNS). In general, accumulating evidence suggests that NO inhibits, but ROS activates, the sympathetic nervous system. NO and ROS, however, interact with each other. Our consecutive studies and those of others strongly indicate that an imbalance between NO bioavailability and ROS generation in the CNS, including the brain stem, activates the sympathetic nervous system, and this mechanism is involved in the pathogenesis of neurogenic aspects of hypertension. In this review, we focus on the role of NO and ROS in the regulation of the sympathetic nervous system within the brain stem and subsequent cardiovascular control. Multiple mechanisms are proposed, including modulation of neurotransmitter release, inhibition of receptors, and alterations of intracellular signaling pathways. Together, the evidence indicates that an imbalance of NO and ROS in the CNS plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of hypertension.

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