Vasopressin (VP) is a neurohypophyseal peptide best known for its role in maintaining osmotic and cardiovascular homeostasis. The main sources of VP are the supraoptic and paraventricular (PVN) nuclei of the hypothalamus, which coexpress the vasopressin V1a and V1b receptors (V1aR and V1bR). Here, we investigated the level of expression of VP and VP receptors in the PVN of borderline hypertensive rats (BHRs), a key integrative nucleus for neuroendocrine cardiovascular control. Experiments were performed in male BHRs and Wistar rats (WRs) equipped with a radiotelemetry device for continuous hemodynamic recording under baseline conditions and after saline load without or with stress. Autonomic control of the circulation was evaluated by spectral analysis of blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) variability and baroreceptor reflex sensitivity (BRS) using the sequence method. Plasma VP was determined by radioimmunoassay, and VP, V1aR, and V1bR gene expression was determined by RT-qPCR. Under baseline conditions, BHRs had higher BP, lower HR, and stronger BRS than WRs. BP and HR variability was unchanged. In the PVN, overexpression of the VP and V1bR genes was found, and plasma VP was increased. Saline load downregulated V1bR mRNA expression without affecting VP mRNA expression or plasma VP and BP. Adding stress increased BP, HR, and low-frequency sympathetic spectral markers and decreased plasma VP without altering the level of expression of VP and VP receptors in the PVN. It follows that overexpression of VP and V1bR in the PVN is a characteristic trait of BHRs and that sympathetic hyperactivity underlies stress-induced hypertension.
- vasopressin receptors
- borderline hypertension
- hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus