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Identification of the spinal pathways involved in the recovery of baroreflex control after spinal lesion in the rat using pseudorabies virus.

  • Castillo, Deborah G
  • Zahner, Matthew R
  • Schramm, Lawrence P
Published Article
AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
American Physiological Society
Publication Date
Sep 15, 2012
DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00008.2012
PMID: 22814663


Neurons in the rostroventrolateral medulla (RVLM) mediate baroreflex regulation (BR) of spinal sympathetic preganglionic neurons. Previously, our laboratory has shown that recovery of BR occurs in the rat after spinal hemisection. (Zahner MR, Kulikowicz E, and Schramm LP. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 301: R1584-R1590, 2011). The goal of these experiments was to determine whether the observed recovery of BR is mediated by the reorganization of ipsilateral pathways or by compensation by spared contralateral pathways. To determine this, we infected the left kidney in rats with the retrograde transynaptic tracer, pseudorabies virus (PRV), either 1 or 8 wk after left spinal hemisection at either T(3) or T(8), or after a sham lesion. In sham-lesioned rats, PRV infection of RVLM neurons was bilateral. In all rats with a left hemisection, regardless of the location of the lesion (T(3) or T(8)) or postlesion recovery time (1 or 8 wk), PRV infection of left RVLM neurons was significantly reduced compared with sham-lesioned rats (P < 0.05). In a separate group of rats, we performed BR tests by measuring responses of left renal sympathetic nerve activity to pharmacologically induced decreases and increases in arterial pressure. In rats with T(8) left hemisection and 8-wk recovery, BR was robust, and acute right upper thoracic hemisection abolished all BR of left renal sympathetic nerve activity. Collectively, these data suggest that the recovery of BR is not mediated by reorganization of ipsilateral bulbospinal connections, but instead by improved efficacy of existing contralateral pathways.


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