ABSTRACT: 1. Nitric oxide (NO), a gas transmitter, modulates many physiological processes, including the central regulation of cardiovascular activity. However, the mechanisms underlying the regulation of cardiovascular activity remain relatively unexplored. In the present study, we hypothesized that central NO-dependent sympathetic inhibition is mediated by activation of adenosine A(2A) receptors (A(2A)R) and inhibition of acetylcholine (ACh) release in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). 2. L-Arginine (L-Arg; an NO donor; 100 nmol/100 nL) was microinjected into the RVLM of male Sprague-Dawley rats and heart rate variability (HRV) was assessed as an index of cardiac sympathovagal balance. Following microinjection of L-Arg, decreases were seen in mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR) and the ratio of the low- to high-frequency components (LF/HF) of HRV. Pretreatment of rats with SCH58261 (40 pmol/60 nL into the RVLM), a competitive antagonist of the A(2A) R, attenuated these effects. 3. Western blot analysis and ELISA revealed that adenosine and A(2A)R levels increased in the RVLM following L-Arg microinjection, whereas ACh and muscarinic M(1) receptor levels decreased significantly, in parallel with the cardiovascular responses to L-Arg microinjection. The decrease in ACh levels was abolished by SCH58261 pretreatment. 4. Microinjection of N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (a non-selective inhibitor of NO synthase; 15 nmol/100 nL) into the RVLM significantly increased MAP, HR and sympathetic activity, as evidenced by HRV (LF, HF and the LF/HF ratio were all increased). 5. The results indicate that the central NO/NO synthase system in the RVLM may modulate cardiovascular activity by activating the A(2A)R, which subsequently inhibits activation of the muscarinic M(1) receptor.
Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology 03/2011; 38(6):380-6. · 1.85 Impact Factor