Background and purpose: The rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) maintains sympathetic nerve activity (SNA), and integrates adaptive reflexes. Orexin A-immunoreactive neurones in the lateral hypothalamus project to the RVLM. Microinjection of orexin A into RVLM increases blood pressure and heart rate. However, the expression of orexin receptors, and effects of orexin A in the RVLM on splanchnic SNA (sSNA), respiration and adaptive reflexes are unknown.
Experimental approach: The effect of orexin A on baseline cardio-respiratory variables as well as the somato-sympathetic, baroreceptor and chemoreceptor reflexes in RVLM were investigated in urethane-anaesthetized, vagotomized and artificially ventilated male Sprague-Dawley rats (n= 50). orexin A and its receptors were detected with fluorescence immunohistochemistry.
Key results: Tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactive neurones in the RVLM were frequently co-localized with orexin 1 (OX(1) ) and orexin 2 (OX(2) ) receptors and closely apposed to orexin A-immunoreactive terminals. Orexin A injected into the RVLM was pressor and sympatho-excitatory. Peak effects were observed at 50 pmol with increased mean arterial pressure (42 mmHg) and SNA (45%). Responses to orexin A (50 pmol) were attenuated by the OX(1) receptor antagonist, SB334867, and reproduced by the OX(2) receptor agonist, [Ala(11) , D-Leu(15) ]orexin B. Orexin A attenuated the somato-sympathetic reflex but increased baroreflex sensitivity. Orexin A increased or reduced sympatho-excitation following hypoxia or hypercapnia respectively.
Conclusions and implications: Although central cardio-respiratory control mechanisms at rest do not rely on orexin, responses to adaptive stimuli are dramatically affected by the functional state of orexin receptors.
© 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.