Development of salt-induced hypertension in Dahl salt-sensitive (S) rats is dependent on sympathetic overactivity which may be partially related to arterial baroreflex dysfunction and, therefore, is regionally selective. Our first experiment was designed to determine which regions have elevated sympathetic activity in Dahl S compared with Dahl salt-resistant (R) rats. Weanling (4-week-old) female Dahl R and S rats were fed low or high salt diets (0.13% and 8% NaCl) until 10 weeks of age. Norepinephrine (NE) synthesis was blocked with α-methyl-p-tyrosine, and the fractional decline of NE concentration was measured in various tissues. Dahl S rats with increases in both arterial pressure and left ventricular weight demonstrated increased NE turnover in the sinoatrial node, the atrial appendages, the cardiac ventricles, and the renal cortex. In all of these tissues except the cardiac ventricle, increases were associated with high salt intake. Our second experiment was designed to test if arterial baroreflex dysfunction could account for regional increases in sympathetic activity. Separate groups of Dahl R and S rats fed high salt were subjected to either sham surgery or sinoaortic baroreceptor denervation 1 week prior to turnover determinations. Sinoaortic baroreceptor denervation abolished differences in NE turnover between salt-fed Dahl R and S rats in the cardiac sinoatrial node and the atrial appendages, but not in the cardiac ventricles and the renal cortex. Sinoaortic baroreceptor denervation also abolished differences between salt-fed Dahl S and R rats in the spleen but not the duodenum. Thus in awake, undisturbed Dahl S rats, sympathetic activity may be increased in the cardiac ventricles, regardless of salt intake. High salt intake may induce elevated sympathetic activity in the renal cortex and in the cardiac atria and sinoatrial node of Dahl S but not R rats. Sinoaortic baroreflex dysfunction in Dahl S rats may contribute to some, but not all, regional increases in sympathetic activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)