Effects of the arterial vasodilator minoxidil on cardiovascular structure and sympathetic activity in spontaneously hypertensive rats

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Objective and design:In spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) arterial vasodilators do not cause regression and might cause further progression of cardiac hypertrophy. To assess whether these effects extend to the vasculature, and to examine the possible mechanisms involved, cardiac and mesenteric arterial structure was evaluated with respect to changes in cardiac volume load and cardiac and arterial sympathetic activity during long-term (5- and 10-week) treatment of 16-week-old SHR with the arterial vasodilator minoxidil, alone or in combination with the diuretic hydrochlorothiazideResults:Despite causing a persistent decrease in blood pressure in SHR, minoxidil further increased left and right ventricular weights and left ventricular internal diameter. In combination with hydrochlorothiazide, minoxidil caused concentric, rather than eccentric, left ventricular hypertrophy. In the mesenteric arterial bed of SHR, minoxidil increased the lumen of the superior mesenteric artery, and prevented further increases in the medial area of the large and small mesenteric arteries. The increase in lumen size of the superior mesenteric artery by minoxidil was abolished when hydrochlorothiazide was added to the treatment. After 10 weeks' treatment with minoxidil, noradrenaline turnover rates were still significantly increased in the left ventricle but were decreased in the mesenteric arteries in the SHR. Minoxidil increased plasma and blood volumes, the increases being largely prevented by concomitant diuretic treatmentConclusions:We conclude that there are regional differences in the response of the cardiovascular system to minoxidil in SHR. Some of these differences may be related to differences in regional sympathetic activity, whereas volume load appears to play a modulatory role

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