Enhanced activation of RVLM-projecting PVN neurons in rats with chronic heart failure

Bo Xu, Hong Zheng, Kaushik P. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Previous studies have indicated that there is increased activation of the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) in rats with chronic heart failure (CHF); however, it is not clear if the preautonomic neurons within the PVN are specifically overactive. Also, it is not known if these neurons have altered responses to baroreceptor or osmotic challenges. Experiments were conducted in rats with CHF (6-8 wk after coronary artery ligation). Spontaneously active neurons were recorded in the PVN, of which 36% were antidromically activated from the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). The baseline discharge rate in RVLM-projecting PVN (PVN-RVLM) neurons from CHF rats was significantly greater than in sham-operated (sham) rats (6.0 ± 0.6 vs. 2.6 ± 0.3 spikes/s, P < 0.05). Picoinjection of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist D,L-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid significantly decreased the basal discharge of PVN-RVLM neurons by 80% in CHF rats compared with 37% in sham rats. Fifty-two percent of spontaneously active PVN- RVLM neurons responded to changes in the mean arterial pressure (MAP). The changes in discharge rate in PVN-RVLM neurons after a reduction in MAP (+52 ± 7% vs. +184 ± 61%) or an increase in MAP (-42 ± 8% vs. -71 ± 6%) were significantly attenuated in rats with CHF compared with sham rats. Most PVN-RVLM neurons (63%), including all barosensitive PVN-RVLM neurons, were excited by an internal carotid artery injection of hypertonic NaCl (2.1 osmol/l), whereas a smaller number (7%) were inhibited. The increase in discharge rate in PVN-RVLM neurons to hypertonic stimulation was significantly enhanced in rats with CHF compared with sham rats (134 ± 15% vs. 92 ± 13%). Taken together, these data suggest that PVN-RVLM neurons are more active under basal conditions and this overactivation is mediated by an enhanced glutamatergic tone in rats with CHF. Furthermore, this enhanced activation of PVN-RVLM neurons may contribute to the altered responses to baroreceptor and osmotic challenges observed during CHF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1700-H1711
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2012


  • Baroreflex
  • Osmotic challenge
  • Paraventricular nucleus
  • Rostral ventrolateral medulla
  • Sympathetic activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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