Hormones as long-term error signals for the sympathetic nervous system: Importance of a new perspective

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A hormonal-sympathetic reflex model for long-term control of arterial pressure is presented. It is hypothesized that the hormonal-sympathetic reflex regulates arterial pressure during chronic dietary salt loading by decreasing sympathetic tone. This sympathetic response is mediated by an increase in plasma vasopressin (AVP) and a decrease in plasma angiotensin (AngII). Three new models of neurogenic salt-dependent hypertension are presented. All models are theoretically based on an impaired hormonal-sympathetic reflex. In the first model, sympathetic responsiveness is 'clamped' by long-term α-adrenergic blockade with prazosin. Prazosin treated rats exhibit marked salt-dependent hypertension despite normal suppression of the renin-angiotensin system. In the second model, the ability of the central nervous system to respond to salt-induced changes in AVP and AngII concentrations was prevented by long-term administration of antagonists selective for the AVP-V1 and AT1. This 'clamp' of the afferent hormonal signal resulted in salt-dependent hypertension identical in magnitude to that observed in prazosin treated rats. In the third model, the long-term arterial pressure responses to increasing dietary salt were examined in sino-aortic denervated (SAD) rats. SAD rats exhibited salt-dependent hypertension, of lesser magnitude than that observed with 'clamped' afferent and efferent pathways of the hormonal sympathetic reflex. A primary role for hormonal 'error signals' is presented and the impact this perspective has on past and future investigations of central mechanisms of long-term arterial pressure regulation is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • angiotensin II
  • arterial pressure
  • baroreceptor reflex
  • hypertension
  • vasopressin


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