Increased Ganglionic Responses to Substance P in Hypertensive Rats Due to Upregulation of NK1 Receptors

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Intravenous injection of substance P (SP) increases renal nerve firing and heart rate in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) and Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKYs) by stimulating sympathetic ganglia. Blood pressure is increased in SHRs but lowered in WKYs. This study assesses the role of neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptors in mediating the ganglion actions of SP. Rats for functional studies were anesthetized and then treated with chlorisondamine. Renal nerve, blood pressure, and heart rate responses to intravenous injection of the NK1 receptor agonist GR-73632 were similar but less than those to equimolar doses of SP in SHRs. GR-73632 only slightly increased renal nerve firing and heart rate and lowered blood pressure in WKYs. The NK1 receptor antagonist GR-82334 (200 nmol/kg iv) blocked the ganglionic actions of GR-73632 and the pressor response to SP in SHRs. It reduced the renal nerve and heart rate responses by 52 and 35%. This suggests that the pressor response to SP is mediated by ganglionic NK1 receptors and that NK1 receptors also have a prominent role in mediating the renal nerve and heart rate responses to SP. Quantitative autoradiography showed that NK1 receptors are more abundant in the superior cervical ganglia of SHRs. RT-PCR showed increased abundance of NK1 receptor mRNA in SHRs as well. These observations suggest that the greater ganglionic stimulation caused by SP in SHRs is due to upregulation of NK1 receptors.