Subfornical Organ Mediates Sympathetic and Hemodynamic Responses to Blood-Borne Proinflammatory Cytokines
Proinflammatory cytokines play an important role in regulating autonomic and cardiovascular function in hypertension and heart failure. Peripherally administered proinflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β), act on the brain to increase blood pressure, heart rate, and sympathetic nerve activity. These molecules are too large to penetrate the blood–brain barrier, and so the mechanisms by which they elicit these responses remain unknown. We tested the hypothesis that the subfornical organ (SFO), a forebrain circumventricular organ that lacks a blood–brain barrier, plays a major role in mediating the sympathetic and hemodynamic responses to circulating proinflammatory cytokines. Intracarotid artery injection of TNF-α (200 ng) or IL-1β (200 ng) dramatically increased mean blood pressure, heart rate, and renal sympathetic nerve activity in rats with sham lesions of the SFO (SFO-s). These excitatory responses to intracarotid artery TNF-α and IL-1β were significantly attenuated in SFO-lesioned (SFO-x) rats. Similarly, the increases in mean blood pressure, heart rate, and renal sympathetic nerve activity in response to intravenous injections of TNF-α (500 ng) or IL-1β (500 ng) in SFO-s rats were significantly reduced in the SFO-x rats. Immunofluorescent staining revealed a dense distribution of the p55 TNF-α receptor and the IL-1 receptor accessory protein, a subunit of the IL-1 receptor, in the SFO. These data suggest that SFO is a predominant site in the brain at which circulating proinflammatory cytokines act to elicit cardiovascular and sympathetic responses.
- Received March 15, 2013.
- Revision received April 14, 2013.
- Accepted April 14, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.