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J Auton Nerv Syst. 1998 Aug 27;73(1):54-62.

Volume expansion fails to normally activate neural pathways in the brain of conscious rabbits with heart failure.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Monash University, Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Immunohistochemical detection of the protein, Fos, was used to identify neurons in the brain activated following a volume load in conscious rabbits with doxorubicin-induced congestive cardiomyopathy. The plasma expander, Haemaccel, was infused intravenously into rabbits for 60 min and significantly increased right atrial pressure, blood pressure and heart rate. The rabbits were perfusion fixed 90 min after the start of the infusion and the distribution of Fos-positive cell nuclei was examined. Compared to control rabbits with heart failure, there was a small significant increase in the number of Fos-positive cell nuclei in the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis following volume expansion. In other regions of the brain that were studied in detail, there were no significant increases in Fos production. These included the parvocellular paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus, the midbrain periaqueductal gray, the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), area postrema and the ventrolateral medulla (VLM). In the supraoptic nucleus and the magnocellular PVN, no Fos-positive cell nuclei were present as expected. The median preoptic nucleus, the bed nucleus of the striae terminalis and the diagonal band of Broca contained some Fos but there was no marked difference between volume expanded and control animals. In the anterior cortical and medial subnuclei of the amygdala there was a high concentration of Fos but there was no consistent difference between the two groups. The present findings in heart failure rabbits suggest that most brain regions are not activated sufficiently by the stimulus to elicit Fos expression. The results are in accord with findings showing that sympathetic reflexes initiated by volume expansion are attenuated in heart failure.

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