Electrical stimulation of the posterior hypothalamus is followed by an immediate increase in sympathetic nerve activity and rise in blood pressure. Destruction of hypothalamic adrenergic structures by local unilateral injection of 6-hydroxydopamine into the posterior hypothalamus reduced the blood pressure rise in response to stimulation of the lesioned side. This and numerous other findings indicate an involvement of central adrenergic neurons in the mediation of an increase of sympathetic nerve activity caused by hypothalamic stimulation. However, central adrenergic neurons do not seem to be an integral part of the sympathoexcitatory pathways originating in the posterior hypothalamus but rather facilitate their activation: after almost complete norepinephrine depletion produced by combined treatment with reserpine and alpha-methl-p-tyrosine, hypothalamic stimulation was still followed by an increase in spontaneous sympathetic nerve activity. Stimulation of an alpha-adrenoceptive site, probably located in the lower brain stem, mimics an activation of the baroreceptor reflex. The hypotensive drug, clonidine, stimulates this alpha-adrenoceptive site. In low doses clonidine facilitates the activation of the reflex, and in high doses this drug induces a state which closely resembles a pronounced activation of the reflex. Experiments following depletion of norepinephrine suggest that the central part of the baroreceptor reflex arc does not contain adrenergic neurons. However, these findings are compatible with the view that some neurons within the reflex arc are supplied with alpha-adrenoceptors. For the present it cannot be stated with certainty whether these alpha-adrenoceptors possess an innervation by adrenergic neurons projecting onto the reflex arc. In favor of such an innervation are the obsevations that alpha-methyldopa has its site of action in the lower brain stem and that the integrity of central adrenergic neurons is essential for its hypotensive effect. It seems that two central adrenergic systems exist with opposing effects on cardiovascular control. These are an excitatory hypothalamic and an inhibitory bulbar adrenergic system. Partial destruction of central adrenergic neurons by intraventricularly injected 6-hydroxydopamine prevents the development of DOCA/NaCl, renal, and neurogenic hypertension and alters the pattern of blood pressure rise in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Impairment of central adrenergic function or imbalance of the two central adrenergic mechanisms may represent a trigger mechanism for the initiation of hypertension.
- Copyright © 1975 by American Heart Association