Kristen Sparrow • May 25, 2016
The paraventricular nucleus (PVN) regulates sympathetic outflow and blood pressure. Somatic afferent stimulation activates neurons in the hypothalamic PVN. Parvocellular PVN neurons project to sympathoexcitatory cardiovascular regions of the rostral ventrolateral medulla (rVLM). Electroacupuncture (EA) stimulates the median nerve (P5-P6) to modulate sympathoexcitatory responses. We hypothesized that the PVN and its projections to the rVLM participate in the EA-modulation of sympathoexcitatory cardiovascular responses. Cats were anesthetized and ventilated. Heart rate and mean blood pressure were monitored. Application of bradykinin every 10-min on the gallbladder induced consistent pressor reflex responses. Thirty-min of bilateral EA stimulation at acupoints P5-P6 reduced the pressor responses for at least 60-min. Inhibition of the PVN with naloxone reversed the EA-inhibition. Responses of cardiovascular barosensitive rVLM neurons evoked by splanchnic nerve stimulation were reduced by EA and then restored with opioid receptor blockade in the PVN. EA at P5-P6 decreased splanchnic evoked activity of cardiovascular barosensitive PVN neurons that also project directly to the rVLM. PVN neurons labeled with retrograde tracer from rVLM were co-labeled with μ-opioid receptors and juxtaposed to endorphinergic fibers. Thus, the PVN and its projection to rVLM are important in processing acupuncture modulation of elevated blood pressure responses through a PVN opioid mechanism.