Median preoptic nucleus and subfornical organ drive renal sympathetic nerve activity via a glutamatergic mechanism within the paraventricular nucleus

Tamra Llewellyn, Hong Zheng, Xuefei Liu, Bo Xu, Kaushik P. Patel

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34 Scopus citations


The paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus is involved in the neural control of sympathetic drive, but the precise mechanism(s) that influences the PVN is not known. The activation of the PVN may be influenced by input from higher forebrain areas, such as the median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) and the subfornical organ (SFO). We hypothesized that activation of the MnPO or SFO would drive the PVN through a glutamatergic pathway. Neuroanatomical connections were confirmed by the recovery of a retrograde tracer in the MnPO and SFO that was injected bilaterally into the PVN in rats. Microinjection of 200 pmol of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) or bicucullineinduced activation of the MnPO and increased renal sympathetic activity (RSNA), mean arterial pressure, and heart rate in anesthetized rats. These responses were attenuated by prior microinjection of a glutamate receptor blocker AP5 (4 nmol) into the PVN (NMDA-ΔRSNA 72 ± 8% vs. 5 ± 1%; P < 0.05). Using single-unit extracellular recording, we examined the effect of NMDA microinjection (200 pmol) into the MnPO on the firing activity of PVN neurons. Of the 11 active neurons in the PVN, 6 neurons were excited by 95 ± 17% (P < 0.05), 1 was inhibited by 57%, and 4 did not respond. The increased RSNA after activation of the SFO by ANG II (1 nmol) or bicuculline (200 pmol) was also reduced by AP5 in the PVN (for ANG II - ΔRSNA 46 ± 7% vs. 17 ± 4%; P < 0.05). Prior microinjection of ANG II type 1 receptor blocker losartan (4 nmol) into the PVN did not change the response to ANG II or bicuculline microinjection into the SFO. The results from this study demonstrate that the sympathoexcitation mediated by a glutamatergic mechanism in the PVN is partially driven by the activation of the MnPO or SFO.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R424-R432
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2012



  • Angiotensin II
  • Cardiovascular
  • Glutamate
  • Sympathetic drive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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