Brain stem catecholamine mechanisms in tonic and reflex control of blood pressure.
Neurons of the lower brain stem maintain resting levels of arterial pressure (AP), mediate reflex responses from cardiopulmonary receptors, and are an important site of the hypotensive actions of alpha 2-adrenergic agonists. Details of the pathways and transmitters that mediate tonic and reflex control of AP are emerging. Afferent fibers of cardiopulmonary receptors in the ninth and tenth nerves terminate bilaterally in the nucleus of the tractus solitarius (NTS). Although some neurons contain substance P, the primary neurotransmitter appears to be the excitatory amino acid L-glutamate (L-glu). Neurons in rostral ventrolateral medulla, which most probably comprise the C1 group of epinephrine neurons, are also critical in AP control. C1 neurons project to innervate cholinergic preganglionic sympathetic neurons in the spinal cord. Stimulation of the C1 area electrically or with L-glu increases AP, while lesions or local injection of the inhibitory amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) lowers AP to levels comparable to spinal cord transection. Lesions of C1 neurons or their pathways abolish vasodepressor reflexes from baroreceptors and vagal afferents. In contrast, noradrenergic neurons of the caudal ventrolateral medulla, the A1 group, project rostrally to innervate, in part, vasopressin neurons of the hypothalamus. Stimulation of A1 neurons lowers AP, while lesions or GABA elevates it. We propose that C1 neurons comprise the so-called tonic vasomotor center of the brain stem and also mediate, via a projection from the NTS, the vasodepressor limb of baroreflexes. The NTS-C1 projection may be GABAergic.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association