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Basic Res Cardiol. 2011 Nov;106(6):1069-85. doi: 10.1007/s00395-011-0231-7. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

Chronic exercise modulates RAS components and improves balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the brain of SHR.

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Comparative Biomedical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, 1909 Skip Bertman Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.


Recently, exercise has been recommended as a part of lifestyle modification for all hypertensive patients; however, the precise mechanisms of its effects on hypertension are largely unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the mechanisms within the brain that can influence exercise-induced effects in an animal model of human essential hypertension. Young normotensive WKY rats and SHR were given moderate-intensity exercise for 16 weeks. Blood pressure was measured bi-weekly by tail-cuff method. Animals were then euthanized; paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), important cardiovascular regulatory centers in the brain, were collected and analyzed by real-time RT-PCR, Western blot, EIA, and fluorescent microscopy. Exercise of 16-week duration attenuated systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial pressure in SHR. Sedentary SHR exhibited increased pro-inflammatory cytokines (PICs) and decreased anti-inflammatory IL-10 levels in the PVN and RVLM. Furthermore, SHR(sed) rats exhibited elevated levels of ACE, AT1R, and decreased levels of ACE2 and receptor Mas in the PVN and RVLM. Chronic exercise not only prevented the increase in PICs (TNF-α, IL-1β), ACE, and AT1R protein expression in the brain of SHR, but also dramatically upregulated IL-10, ACE2, and Mas receptor expression in SHR. In addition, these changes were associated with reduced plasma AngII levels, reduced neuronal activity, reduced NADPH-oxidase subunit gp91(phox) and inducible NO synthase in trained SHRs indicating reduced oxidative stress. These results suggest that chronic exercise not only attenuates PICs and the vasoconstrictor axis of the RAS but also improves the anti-inflammatory defense mechanisms and vasoprotective axis of the RAS in the brain, which, at least in part, explains the blood pressure-lowering effects of exercise in hypertension.

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