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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Dec 15;113(12):1921-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00610.2012. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Brain stem oxidative stress and its associated signaling in the regulation of sympathetic vasomotor tone.

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Center for Translational Research in Biomedical Sciences, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


There is now compelling evidence from studies in humans and animals that overexcitation of the sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. An excellent example is neurogenic hypertension, in which central sympathetic overactivation is involved in the development, staging, and progression of the disease, and one of the underlying mechanisms involves oxidative stress in key brain stem sites that are engaged in the regulation of sympathetic vasomotor tone. Using the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) and nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) as two illustrative brain stem neural substrates, this article provides an overview of the impact of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants on RVLM and NTS in the pathogenesis of neurogenic hypertension. This is followed by a discussion of the redox-sensitive signaling pathways, including several kinases, ion channels, and transcription factors that underpin the augmentation in sympathetic vasomotor tone. In addition, the emerging view that brain stem oxidative stress is also causally related to a reduction in sympathetic vasomotor tone and hypotension during brain stem death, methamphetamine intoxication, and temporal lobe status epilepticus will be presented, along with the causal contribution of the oxidant peroxynitrite formed by a reaction between nitric oxide synthase II (NOS II)-derived nitric oxide and superoxide. Also discussed as a reasonable future research direction is dissection of the cellular mechanisms and signaling cascades that may underlie the contributory role of nitric oxide generated by different NOS isoforms in the differential effects of oxidative stress in the RVLM or NTS on sympathetic vasomotor tone.

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