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Hypertension. 1996 Jan;27(1):36-42.

Cardiovascular effects of nitric oxide in the brain stem nuclei of rats.

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Department of Medical Education and Research, Veterans General Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Nitric oxide, synthesized from the semiessential amino acid L-arginine by nitric oxide synthase, is a remarkable regulatory molecule and plays an important role in physiological functions. However, the physiological role of nitric oxide in cardiovascular regulation by the central nervous system is not well understood. In this study we investigated the cardiovascular effects of nitric oxide in the lateral ventricle, nucleus tractus solitarii, area postrema, and rostral ventrolateral medulla in urethane-anesthetized male Sprague-Dawley rats. Microinjection of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine, a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, into the cerebral ventricle of rats elicited a dose-dependent increase in blood pressure and heart rate. This suggests that nitric oxide may be involved in central cardiovascular regulation. Unilateral microinjection (60 nL) of L-arginine (1 to 100 nmol) into the nucleus tractus solitarii and rostral ventrolateral medulla produced prominent dose-related depressor and bradycardic effects and reduced renal sympathetic nerve activity. However, L-arginine had no significant cardiovascular effects in the area postrema. In addition, 4 to 6 hours after intravenous injection of bacterial endotoxin-lipopolysaccharide (10 mg/kg), there was a time-related potentiation of the L-arginine-induced depressor and bradycardic effects in the nucleus tractus solitarii. These results indicate that nitric oxide is involved in central cardiovascular regulation. The depressor effect of nitric oxide in the nucleus tractus solitarii and rostral ventrolateral medulla may be through inhibition of renal sympathetic nerve activity.

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