Mechanism of cardiovascular effects of nociceptin microinjected into the nucleus tractus solitarius of the rat

Vineet C. Chitravanshi, Hreday N. Sapru

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Microinjections (100 nl) of 0.15, 0.31, 0.62, and 1.25 mmol/l of nociceptin into the medial nucleus tractus solitarius (mNTS) elicited decreases in mean arterial pressure (11 ± 1.8, 20 ± 2.1, 21.5 ± 3.1, and 15.5 ± 1.9 mmHg, respectively) and heart rate (14 ± 2.7, 29 ± 5.5, 39 ± 5.2, and 17.5 ± 3.1 beats/min, respectively). Because maximal responses were elicited by microinjections of 0.62 mmol/l nociceptin, this concentration was used for other experiments. Repeated microinjections of nociceptin (0.62 mmol/l) into the mNTS, at 20-min intervals, did not elicit tachyphylaxis. Bradycardia induced by microinjections of nociceptin into the mNTS was abolished by bilateral vagotomy. The decreases in mean arterial pressure and heart rate elicited by nociceptin into the mNTS were blocked by prior microinjections of the specific ORL1-receptor antagonist [N-Phe 1]-nociceptin-(1-13)-NH2 (9 mmol/l). Microinjections of the ORL1-receptor antagonist alone did not elicit a response. Prior combined microinjections of GABAA and GABAB receptor antagonists (2 mmol/l gabazine and 100 mmol/1 2-hydroxysaclofen, respectively) into the mNTS blocked the responses to microinjections of nociceptin at the same site. Prior microinjections of ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonists (2 mmol/l NBQX and 5 mmol/l D-AP7) also blocked responses to nociceptin microinjections into the mNTS. These results were confirmed by direct neuronal recordings. It was concluded that 1) nociceptin inhibits GABAergic neurons in the mNTS, 2) GABAergic neurons may normally inhibit the release of glutamate from the terminals of peripheral afferents in the mNTS, and 3) inhibition of GABAergic neurons by nociceptin results in an increase in the release of glutamate in the mNTS, which in turn elicits depressor and bradycardic responses via activation of ionotropic glutamate receptors on secondary mNTS neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1553-R1562
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6 57-6
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


  • Bradycardia
  • Depressor responses
  • Opioid peptides


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