Hypertension alters GABA receptor-mediated inhibition of neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract

Lin Mei, Jing Zhang, Steve Mifflin

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Previous studies have demonstrated that microinjection of baclofen, a GABAB receptor agonist, into the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) results in an enhanced pressor response in hypertensive (HT) rats compared with normotensive (NT) rats, suggesting a possible alteration in the responses of neurons in this area to activation of GABAB receptors. The following studies were designed to determine whether HT alters the sensitivity of neurons in the NTS to GABA receptor agonists. Sham-operated NT and unilateral nephrectomized, renal-wrap HT Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized, and the responses of NTS neurons receiving aortic nerve (AN) afferent inputs to iontophoretic application of GABA, the GABAA receptor agonist muscimol, and the GABAB agonist baclofen were examined. The AN input was classified as monosynaptic (MSN) if the cell responded to each of two stimuli separated by 5 ms with an action potential. If the cell did not respond, the input was considered polysynaptic (PSN). In MSNs, inhibition of AN-evoked discharge by GABA was not altered in 1 wk of HT but was reduced in 4 wk of HT, whereas in PSNs, sensitivity to GABA was reduced at 1 and 4 wk of HT. In HT rats, inhibition of AN-evoked discharge by baclofen was enhanced in MSNs, but not in PSNs, after 1 and 4 wk of HT, whereas inhibition by muscimol was reduced in MSNs and PSNs at 1 and 4 wk of HT. Changes in sensitivity to muscimol and baclofen within MSNs were the same whether the MSN received a slowly or a rapidly conducted AN afferent input. The results demonstrate that early in HT the sensitivity of NTS neurons to inhibitory amino acids is altered and that these changes are maintained for ≥4 wk. The alterations are dependent on the subtype of GABA receptor being activated and whether the neuron receives a mono- or polysynaptic baroreceptor afferent input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1276-R1286
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 54-6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Baroreceptor
  • Baroreflex
  • Electrophysiology


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