Cardiovascular responses to medullary microinjections of opiate agonists in urethane-anesthetized rats

Susan Punnen, Hreday N. Sapru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations


Pressor (VLPA) and depressor (VLDA) areas of the ventrolateral medulla were identified by microinjections of L-glutamate in urethane-anesthetized rats. Cardiovascular effects of opiate agonists microinjected into the same sites were then studied. Agents used to stimulate μ, δ, σ, K, and β-endorphin (±) receptors were morphiceptin, D-Ala2-D-Leu5-enkephalin, N-allyl-nor-metazocine, dynorphin, and β-endorphin, respectively. Opiate receptor stimulation in VLPA decreased blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR), while in VLDA it increased BP and HR. Thus, it is the site of injection rather than the type of opiate receptor that determines cardiovascular responses. Naloxone, an opiate antagonist, reversed and prevented these responses. Abolition of cardiovascular responses by spinal transection at the C1 level indicated that the sympathetic nervous system mediated these responses. The following mechanism is proposed for these actions of opiates: Cell bodies in VLPA, but not in VLDA, project to the intermediolateral cell column of the spinal cord. Opiates inhibit VLPA and lower BP and HR by decreasing sympathetic outflow. Opiate-induced inhibition of VLDA, which has an inhibitory effect on VLPA, results in an increase in BP and HR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-956
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of cardiovascular pharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1986


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


  • Blood pressure
  • Depressor area
  • Endorphin
  • Enkephalins
  • Heart rate
  • Multiple opiate receptors

Cite this