Effect of global and regional sympathetic blockade on arterial pressure during water deprivation in conscious rats

Britta J. Veitenheimer, William C. Engeland, Pilar A. Guzman, Gregory D. Fink, John W. Osborn

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Forty-eight hours of water deprivation (WD) in conscious rats results in a paradoxical increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP). Previous studies suggest this may be due to increased sympathetic nerve activity (SNA). However, this remains to be investigated in conscious, freely behaving animals. The purpose of this study was to determine, in conscious rats, the role of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) in mediating WD-induced increases in MAP and to identify which vascular beds are targeted by increased SNA. Each rat was chronically instrumented with a radiotelemetry transmitter to measure MAP and heart rate (HR) and an indwelling venous catheter for plasma sampling and/or drug delivery. MAP and HR were continuously measured during a 2-day baseline period followed by 48 h of WD and then a recovery period. By the end of the WD period, MAP increased by ~15 mmHg in control groups, whereas HR did not change significantly. Chronic blockade of a1/(31-adrenergic receptors significantly attenuated the WD-induced increase in MAP, suggesting a role for global activation of the SNS. However, the MAP response to WD was unaffected by selective denervations of the hindlimb, renal, or splanchnic vascular beds, or by adrenal demedullation. In contrast, complete adrenalectomy (with corticosterone and aldosterone replaced) significantly attenuated the MAP response to WD in the same time frame as α11-adrenergic receptor blockade. These results suggest that, in conscious water-deprived rats, the SNS contributes to the MAP response and may be linked to release of adrenocortical hormones. Finally, this sympathetically mediated response is not dependent on increased SNA to one specific vascular bed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1022-H1034
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2012


  • Adrenal cortex
  • Denervation
  • Osmolality
  • Sympathetic nerve activity
  • Water deprivation


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