A novel method of selective ablation of afferent renal nerves by periaxonal application of capsaicin

Jason D. Foss, Richard D. Wainford, William C. Engeland, Gregory D. Fink, John W. Osborn

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84 Scopus citations


Renal denervation has been shown to lower arterial pressure in some hypertensive patients, yet it remains unclear whether this is due to ablation of afferent or efferent renal nerves. To investigate the role of afferent renal nerves in arterial pressure regulation, previous studies have used methods that disrupt both renal and nonrenal afferent signaling. The present study was conducted to develop and validate a technique for selective ablation of afferent renal nerves that does not disrupt other afferent pathways. To do this, we adapted a technique for sensory denervation of the adrenal gland by topical application of capsaicin and tested the hypothesis that exposure of the renal nerves to capsaicin (renal-CAP) causes ablation of afferent but not efferent renal nerves. Renal-CAP had no effect on renal content of the efferent nerve markers tyrosine hydroxylase and norepinephrine; however, the afferent nerve marker, calcitonin generelated peptide was largely depleted from the kidney 10 days after intervention, but returned to roughly half of control levels by 7 wk postintervention. Moreover, renal-CAP abolished the cardiovascular responses to acute pharmacological stimulation of afferent renal nerves. Renal-CAP rats showed normal weight gain, as well as cardiovascular and fluid balance regulation during dietary sodium loading. To some extent, renal-CAP did blunt the bradycardic response and increase the dipsogenic response to increased salt intake. Lastly, renal-CAP significantly attenuated the development of deoxycorticosterone acetate-salt hypertension. These results demonstrate that renal-CAP effectively causes selective ablation of afferent renal nerves in rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R112-R122
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2015

Bibliographical note

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© 2015 the American Physiological Society.


  • Afferent renal denervation
  • Hypertension
  • Salt-sensitivity


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