Increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor in lumbar dorsal root ganglia contributes to the enhanced exercise pressor reflex in heart failure

Alicia M. Schiller, Juan Hong, Zhiqiu Xia, Han Jun Wang

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An exaggerated exercise pressor reflex (EPR) is associated with excessive sympatho-excitation and exercise intolerance in the chronic heart failure (CHF) state. We hypothesized that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) causes the exaggerated EPR via sensitizing muscle mechanosensitive afferents in CHF. Increased BDNF expression was observed in lumbar dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) from CHF rats compared to sham rats. Immunofluorescence data showed a greater increase in the number of BDNF-positive neurons in medium and large-sized DRG subpopulations from CHF rats. Patch clamp data showed that incubation with BDNF for 4–6 h, significantly decreased the current threshold-inducing action potential (AP), threshold potential and the number of APs during current injection in Dil-labeled isolectin B4 (IB4)-negative medium-sized DRG neurons (mainly mechano-sensitive) from sham rats. Compared to sham rats, CHF rats exhibited an increased number of APs during current injection in the same DRG subpopulation, which was significantly attenuated by 4-h incubation with anti-BDNF. Finally, chronic epidural delivery of anti-BDNF attenuated the exaggerated pressor response to either static contraction or passive stretch in CHF rats whereas this intervention had no effect on the pressor response to hindlimb arterial injection of capsaicin. These data suggest that increased BDNF in lumbar DRGs contributes to the exaggerated EPR in CHF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1480
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2019



  • Cardiovascular reflexes
  • Exercise
  • Mechanoreflex
  • Neurotrophic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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