We have previously reported that inhibition of the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) in chronically sinoaortic baroreceptor-denervated (SAD) rats has no effect on blood pressure in contrast to the marked increase in blood pressure it elicits in baroreceptor-intact rats. This could result either from a lack of tonic excitatory input to this region or from overriding inhibition of NTS neurons involved in the control of blood pressure. The present study aimed to distinguish between these two possibilities by examining the changes in blood pressure elicited by injection of bicuculline (Bic), a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) antagonist, into the NTS of SAD and control rats. In chloralose-anesthetized baroreceptor-intact rats or acutely SAD rats, injection of 10 pmol Bic into the NTS elicited minimal changes in blood pressure. In contrast, in chronic SAD rats injection of Bic into the NTS elicited a large decrease in blood pressure. The maximal decrease in blood pressure elicited by Bic in chronic SAD rats was equivalent to the maximal decrease in blood pressure that could be evoked by direct excitation of the NTS with L-glutamate. These results suggest that the lack of a tonic role of the NTS in the regulation of blood pressure in chronic SAD rats is a result of maximal GABA-mediated inhibition of relevant NTS neurons.
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