Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 32, Issue 7, pp 1119–1126 | Cite as

Sudden Death and Myocardial Lesions after Damage to Catecholamine Neurons of the Nucleus Tractus Solitarii in Rat

  • William T. Talman
  • Deidre Nitschke Dragon
  • Susan Y. Jones
  • Steven A. Moore
  • Li-Hsien Lin
Original Research


Lesions that remove neurons expressing neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptors from the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) without removing catecholaminergic neurons lead to loss of baroreflexes, labile arterial pressure, myocardial lesions, and sudden death. Because destruction of NTS catecholaminergic neurons expressing tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) may also cause lability of arterial pressure and loss of baroreflexes, we sought to test the hypothesis that cardiac lesions associated with lability are not dependent on damage to neurons with NK1 receptors but would also occur when TH neurons in NTS are targeted. To rid the NTS of TH neurons we microinjected anti-dopamine β-hydroxylase conjugated to saporin (anti-DBH-SAP, 42 ng/200 nl) into the NTS. After injection of the toxin unilaterally, immunofluorescent staining confirmed that anti-DBH-SAP decreased the number of neurons and fibers that contain TH and DBH in the injected side of the NTS while sparing neuronal elements expressing NK1 receptors. Bilateral injections in eight rats led to significant lability of arterial pressure. For example, on day 8 standard deviation of mean arterial pressure was 16.8 ± 2.5 mmHg when compared with a standard deviation of 7.83 ± 0.33 mmHg in six rats in which phosphate buffered saline (PBS) had been injected bilaterally. Two rats died suddenly at 5 and 8 days after anti-DBH-SAP injection. Seven-treated animals demonstrated microscopic myocardial necrosis as reported in animals with lesions of NTS neurons expressing NK1 receptors. Thus, cardiac and cardiovascular effects of lesions directed toward catecholamine neurons of the NTS are similar to those following damage directed toward NK1 receptor-containing neurons.


Arrhythmia Baroreflex Catecholamine Lability Rat Saporin 



The study presented here was supported by National Institutes of Health RO1 HL 088090 (to L. H. Lin and W. T. Talman) and in part by a Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review (to W. T. Talman). The authors gratefully acknowledge technical support provided by Dr. Wei Zhang in the initial microinjection studies and consultative support from Dr. Harald Stauss in sequence analysis of baroreflex function.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors has a real or perceived conflict of interest that could have, in any way, influenced the results or interpretation of the results of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • William T. Talman
    • 1
  • Deidre Nitschke Dragon
    • 1
  • Susan Y. Jones
    • 1
  • Steven A. Moore
    • 2
  • Li-Hsien Lin
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Neurobiology, Department of NeurologyCarver College of Medicine, University of Iowa and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical CenterIowaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyCarver College of Medicine, University of Iowa and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical CenterIowaUSA

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