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Role Of Angiotensin II Receptors In The Regulation Of Vasomotor Neurons In The Ventrolateral Medulla

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1. There is a high density of angiotensin type 1 (AT1) receptors in various brain regions involved in cardiovascular regulation. The present review will focus on the role of AT1 receptors in regulating the activity of sympathetic premotor neurons in the rostral part of the ventrolateral medulla (VLM), which are known to play a pivotal role in the tonic and phasic regulation of sympathetic vasomotor activity and arterial pressure.

2. Microinjection of angiotensin (Ang) II into the rostral VLM (RVLM) results in an increase in arterial pressure and sympathetic vasomotor activity. These effects are blocked by prior application of losartan, a selective AT1 receptor antagonist, indicating that they are mediated by AT1 receptors. However, microinjection of AngII into the RVLM has no detectable effect on respiratory activity, indicating that AT1 receptors are selectively or even exclusively associated with vasomotor neurons in this region.

3. Under normal conditions in anaesthetized animals, AT1 receptors do not appear to contribute significantly to the generation of resting tonic activity in RVLM sympathoexcitatory neurons. However, recent studies suggest that they contribute significantly to the tonic activity of these neurons under certain conditions, such as salt deprivation or heart failure, or in spontaneously hypertensive or genetically modified rats in which the endogenous levels of AngII are increased or in which AT1 receptors are upregulated.

4. Recent evidence also indicates that AT1 receptors play an important role in mediating phasic excitatory inputs to RVLM sympathoexcitatory neurons in response to activation of some neurons within the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus. The physiological conditions that lead to activation of these AT1 receptor-mediated inputs are unknown. Further studies are also required to determine the cellular mechanisms of action of AngII in the RVLM and its interactions with other neurotransmitters in that region.
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Keywords: AT1 receptors; angiotensin receptor antagonists; baroreceptor reflex; neuromodulators; neurotransmitters; paraventricular nucleus; sympathetic vasomotor tone

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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