Sustained activation of the central baroreceptor pathway in obesity hypertension

Thomas E. Lohmeier, Susan Warren, J. Thomas Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The major goal of this study was to determine whether there is increased activation of medullary neurons that participate in the central baroreceptor reflex pathway in dogs with obesity-induced hypertension, a model of hypertension that is associated with increased sympathetic activity. We used Fos-like (Fos-Li) protein immunohistochemical methods to determine activation of neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), caudal ventrolateral medulla (CVLM), and rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). Dogs were fed either a regular diet or an identical diet with the addition of 0.5 to 0.9 kg of cooked beef fat. After ≈6 weeks of the high fat diet, body weight (36.3±0.4 vs 21.5±0.5 kg), mean arterial pressure (105±4 vs 91±3 mm Hg), and heart rate (97±4 vs 70±3 bpm) were significantly greater in obese than in control dogs, respectively. There was little Fos-Li immunoreactivity in medullary neurons of control dogs but marked reactivity in obese dogs. Specifically, the number of Fos-Li-positive cells in the NTS and CVLM was 3 to 5 times greater in obese than in control dogs. Furthermore, despite sustained activation of these baroreceptor-sensitive neurons, there was a significantly greater number of Fos-Li positive cells in the RVLM of dogs fed the high fat diet. As baroreceptor suppression of sympathoexcitatory cells in the RVLM is mediated by activation of neurons in the NTS and CVLM, these results support recent findings indicating that baroreflex suppression of sympathetic activity is a long-term compensatory response in hypertension. However, sympathoexcitatory inputs onto RVLM neurons would appear to predominate over the inhibitory effects of the baroreflex in obesity hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2003


  • Angiotensin
  • Baroreflex
  • Brain
  • Central nervous system
  • Hypertension, obesity


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