Increased Sympatho-Adrenal Tone and Adrenal Medulla Reactivity in DOCA-Salt Hypertensive Rats

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Sympatho-adrenal tone and reactivity were evaluated in anaesthetized normotensive and DOCA-salt hypertensive rats, by measuring arterial plasma concentrations of norepinephrine and epinephrine under basal conditions and following bilateral carotid occlusion. Baseline norepinephrine levels were significantly higher in DOCA-salt hypertensive animals than in their respective normotensive controls, whether they were studied with intact vagi or following bilateral vagotomy. The possibility of a relationship between the increased basal sympathetic fibres and the maintenance of DOCA-salt hypertension is strongly suggested by the finding of a significant correlation between mean arterial pressure (MAP) and basal circulating norepinephrine values in those animals. Furthermore, the epinephrine increase following carotid occlusion was found to be markedly potentiated in hypertensive animals (intact or vagotomized), suggesting adrenal medullary hyperreactivity to baroreflex activation in this model of hypertension. In normotensive rats the epinephrine increase induced by the carotid occlusion was greatly potentiated by the administration of an α2-antagonist (yohimbine), and completely abolished by administration of an α2-agonist (clonidine). In contrast, the epinephrine response to carotid occlusion, which is already enhanced in hypertensive animals, was unaffected by the same treatments. These results therefore suggest that adrenal medullary hyperreactivity observed in DOCA-salt hypertensive rats may be due to a dysfunction of an α2-adrenergic mechanism modulating adrenal medullary secretion.

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