Hypothalamic Ion Channels in Hypertension

  • Vera Geraldes
  • Sérgio Laranjo
  • Isabel Rocha
Hypertension and the Brain (R Wainford, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Hypertension and the Brain


Hypertension is a prevalent and major health problem, involving a complex integration of different organ systems, including the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS and the hypothalamus in particular are intricately involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension. In fact, evidence supports altered hypothalamic neuronal activity as a major factor contributing to increased sympathetic drive and increased blood pressure. Several mechanisms have been proposed to contribute to hypothalamic-driven sympathetic activity, including altered ion channel function. Ion channels are critical regulators of neuronal excitability and synaptic function in the brain and, thus, important for blood pressure homeostasis regulation. These include sodium channels, voltage-gated calcium channels, and potassium channels being some of them already identified in hypothalamic neurons. This brief review summarizes the hypothalamic ion channels that may be involved in hypertension, highlighting recent findings that suggest that hypothalamic ion channel modulation can affect the central control of blood pressure and, therefore, suggesting future development of interventional strategies designed to treat hypertension.


Hypothalamus Ion channels Hypertension Sympathetic nervous system Sodium channels Calcium channels Potassium channels 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Rocha reports a grant from Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology [2010–2013–FCT/PTDC/SAU-OSM/109081/2008]. The other authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Fisiologia, Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de MedicinaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Centro Cardiovascular da Universidade de LisboaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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