Central control mechanisms in hypertension
There is substantial evidence for an activation of the sympathetic nervous system in man as well as in genetic models of hypertension, such as the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), but we are only beginning to understand the central mechanisms that generate changes in sympathetic activity and elevate blood pressure (BP). Significant recent advances have been made in defining the neural pathways involved in BP regulation and in identifying the neurotransmitters these neurones utilise. In this overview, we describe the neural pathways within the medulla oblongata and spinal cord that participate in BP control and examine that role of amino acid neurotransmitters within these pathways. We demonstrate how alterations in these pathways explain the sympathetic activation observed in the SHR and contribute to hypertension in this model. Lastly, we examine the application of modern molecular biological approaches to further our understanding of the neural regulation of the circulation. In these studies, we used the administration of antisense oligonucleotides to interrupt gene expression.