Chronic lability of the arterial blood pressure produced by electrolytic lesions of the nucleus tractus solitarii in the rat.
The purpose of this study was to assess the chronic effects of lesions of the nucleus tractus solitarii on the cardiovascular activity of rats. Arterial pressure and heart rate were recorded in conscious, unrestrained rats 7-216 days following placement of electrolytic lesions in the nucleus tractus solitarii. To assess the impact of environmental stimuli on the mean level and lability of the mean arterial pressure, cardiovascular activity was recorded under conditions of controlled and uncontrolled environmental stimulation. Nucleus tractus solitarii lesions abolished the reflex bradycardia to a phenylephrine-induced elevation in arterial pressure. A marked increase in the lability of the mean arterial pressure was produced with nucleus tractus solitarii lesions. The standard deviation of the mean arterial pressure, an index of lability, was 380% greater in rats with lesions than in control rats. The average mean arterial pressure, heart rate and heart rate variability were not significantly different between the lesion and control groups, regardless of the environmental conditions under which the measurements were made. Nucleus tractus solitarii lesions also greatly exaggerated the arterial pressure response to naturally occurring behaviors, such as eating and drinking. Vagal and beta-adrenergic blockade with methyl atropine and propranolol did not alter the average level or lability of the mean arterial pressure, although heart rate responses were similar in both groups. alpha-Receptor blockade with prazosin significantly lowered the mean arterial pressure in both lesion and control rats, but the decrease in mean arterial pressure was significantly greater in rats with nucleus tractus solitarii lesions (42 +/- 6 mm Hg, 38.5%) than in control rats (27 +/- 4 mm Hg, 23.2%). Prazosin also reduced the lability of the mean arterial pressure to control levels in rats with lesions. Thus, the chronic effects of nucleus tractus solitarii lesions in rats are to abolish the cardiomotor component of the baroreflexes and to produce extreme lability of the arterial pressure without altering the average level of the mean arterial pressure. Exaggerated blood pressure responses are seen in association with various behaviors. These effects are mediated primarily by changes in sympathetic discharge to the vasculature and are independent of the ambient level of environmental stimuli.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association