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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 1996 Feb;23(2):161-5.

Role of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus in cardiovascular regulation.

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  • 1University of Rochester School of Medicine, NY 14642, USA.


1. The paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVH) is a complex structure with both neuroendocrine and autonomic functions. It is a major source of vasopressin and the primary source of corticotropin-releasing factor. In addition, parvicellular PVH neurons have reciprocal connections with brainstem autonomic centres and directly innervate sympathetic preganglionic neurons. Evidence is reviewed which indicates that in conscious rats PVH activation increases blood pressure, heart rate, renal nerve activity and plasma renin activity. 2. In conscious rats, a non-hypotensive haemorrhage (13 mL/kg blood loss over 24 min) results in increased numbers of Fos-immunoreactive cell nuclei within both magnocellular and parvicellular PVH neurons, including the ventral medial parvicellular regions known to contain neuronal projections to brainstem autonomic centres and spinal cord sympathetic preganglionic neurons. 3. Cell-selective ibotenate lesions of the parvicellular PVH significantly blunt the corticosterone response but do not alter blood pressure, heart rate or plasma renin concentration response to non-hypotensive or hypotensive haemorrhage. This and earlier studies indicate that, while the PVH is necessary for the corticosterone response and contributes to increased vasopressin release during blood loss, it does not play an important role in the sympathetic nervous system and renin-angiotensin responses to hypovolaemia and hypotension. 4. There is evidence to indicate that the parvicellular PVH serves as a necessary relay for cardiovascular and renin responses to certain behavioural stressors. We propose that cardiovascular information relayed to parvicellular PVH autonomic regions may be used to modulate behavioural, rather than homeostatic, effects on haemodynamics and renin release.

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