Current Hypertension Reports

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 242-247

Vascular-brain signaling in hypertension: Role of angiotensin II and nitric oxide

  • Julian F. R. PatonAffiliated withDepartment of Physiology, Bristol Heart Institute, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol Email author 
  • , Hidefumi Waki
  • , Ana P. L. Abdala
  • , John Dickinson
  • , Sergey Kasparov

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Paracrine signaling by nitric oxide (NO) released from microvasculature within the brain affects multiple neuronal functions. Reviewed here is a role in central cardiovascular control. Within the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), a major regulatory region for arterial pressure, angiotensin II stimulates NO generation from endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS). This enhances γ-aminobutyric acid release to depress baroreflex function. In the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), eNOS mRNA in the NTS is elevated compared to normotensive rats. Chronic inhibition of eNOS activity in the NTS of SHR reduced arterial pressure and increased baroreflex gain. Thus, eNOS-generated NO in the NTS plays a major role in control of baroreflex gain and arterial pressure. Indeed, its activity contributes to hypertension in the SHR. We propose that eNOS-generated NO in the SHR may be a compensatory mechanism for any potential threat to an adequate blood supply to the brain (eg, from genetically small arteries supplying the brainstem).