Variable Effects of Parabrachial Nucleus Lesions on Salt Appetite in Rats Depending Upon Experimental Paradigm and Saline Concentration

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Previous studies have demonstrated that bilateral lesions of the gustatory (medial) zone of the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) in the pons eliminate the salt (sodium chloride; NaCl) appetite induced in rats by treatment with the diuretic drug, furosemide. The present studies reexamined NaCl intake of rats with PBN lesions induced by ibotenic acid, using multiple models of salt appetite. The impairment of a conditioned taste aversion, an established consequence of PBN damage, was used as an initial screen with which to assess the effectiveness of the lesions. Rats with PBN lesions did not drink either 0.3 of a molar (M) solution of NaCl or 0.5 M NaCl in response to daily treatment with desoxycorticosterone acetate. These findings suggest that the excitatory stimulus of salt appetite mediated by mineralocorticoids is abolished by PBN lesions. In contrast, rats with PBN lesions drank some 0.5 M NaCl and more 0.3 M NaCl, in addition to water, in response to hypovolemia induced by subcutaneous injection of 30% polyethylene glycol solution. Those findings suggest that an excitatory stimulus of salt appetite, presumably mediated by Angiotensin II, is not abolished by PBN lesions. These and other observations indicate that lesions of the gustatory PBN in rats may or may not eliminate salt appetite, depending on which model is used and which concentration of NaCl solution is available.

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