The hypothalamus and hypertension.


De Wardener HE




Physiol Rev


Most forms of hypertension are associated with a wide variety of functional changes in the hypothalamus. Alterations in the following substances are discussed: catecholamines, acetylcholine, angiotensin II, natriuretic peptides, vasopressin, nitric oxide, serotonin, GABA, ouabain, neuropeptide Y, opioids, bradykinin, thyrotropin-releasing factor, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, tachykinins, histamine, and corticotropin-releasing factor. Functional changes in these substances occur throughout the hypothalamus but are particularly prominent rostrally; most lead to an increase in sympathetic nervous activity which is responsible for the rise in arterial pressure. A few appear to be depressor compensatory changes. The majority of the hypothalamic changes begin as the pressure rises and are particularly prominent in the young rat; subsequently they tend to fluctuate and overall to diminish with age. It is proposed that, with the possible exception of the Dahl salt-sensitive rat, the hypothalamic changes associated with hypertension are caused by renal and intrathoracic cardiopulmonary afferent stimulation. Renal afferent stimulation occurs as a result of renal ischemia and trauma as in the reduced renal mass rat. It is suggested that afferents from the chest arise, at least in part, from the observed increase in left auricular pressure which, it is submitted, is due to the associated documented impaired ability to excrete sodium. It is proposed, therefore, that the hypothalamic changes in hypertension are a link in an integrated compensatory natriuretic response to the kidney's impaired ability to excrete sodium.