Altered number of diaphorase (NOS) positive neurons in the hypothalamus of rats with heart failure

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Recently, we have demonstrated a decreased neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) message in the hypothalamus of rats with heart failure (HF). The purpose of this study was to determine the changes in NADPH- diaphorase (a commonly used marker for neuronal NOS activity) positive neurons in specific hypothalamic sites of rats with HF. After a standard histochemical protocol, NOS positive neurons were measured in paraventricular nucleus (PVN), supraoptic nucleus (SON), median preoptic area (MePO), subfornical organ (SPO), organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT) and lateral hypothalamus (LH) of rats with coronary artery ligation (HF group; n = 8) and sham-operated control rats (n = 9). A total of 4 months after coronary ligation, the rats in the HF group displayed infarcts greater than at least 35% of the left ventricular wall (n = 8). Sham-operated rats had no observable damage to the myocardium. Rats with HF had a significantly lower number of NOS positive cells in the PVN (36% less) compared to sham rats. The number of NOS positive cells remained unaltered in the SON, MePO and LH in rats with HF. Conversely there was an increased number of NOS positive cells in the SFO (42% greater) and OVLT (100% greater). These data support the conclusion that the NO system within the hypothalamus involved in controlling autonomic outflow is altered during HF and may contribute to the elevated levels of vasopressin and sympatho-excitation commonly observed in HF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 9 1998



  • Heart failure
  • NOS
  • PVN
  • Sympathetic nerve activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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