Differential regulation of regional vascular resistance by the rostral and caudal ventrolateral medulla in the rat

R. N. Willette, S. Punnen-Grandy, A. J. Krieger, H. N. Sapru

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Regional vascular resistance changes were determined following chemical excitation and inhibition of the rostral vasopressor (RVLM) and caudal vasodepressor (CVLM) areas in the ventrolateral medulla. Mesenteric, renal and hindquarter vascular resistances were assessed in paralyzed and artificially ventilated urethane-anesthetized rats instrumented with pulsed Doppler flow probes. Microinjection of the excitatory amino acid λ-glutamate in the RVLM elicited a significant dose-related transient increase in blood pressure, heart rate and resistance of mesenteric, renal and hindquarter vascular beds. A similar dose-related hemodynamic profile was obtained following microinjection of muscimol, a GABAmimetic, in the CVLM. In contrast, significant dose-related decrease in blood pressure, heart rate and resistance in mesenteric and hindquarter vascular beds was observed following glutamate-induced excitation of the CVLM and muscimol-induced inhibition of the RVLM. Changes in renal vascular resistance were inconsistent in this second hemodynamic profile. Intravenous administration of the α1 adrenergic antagonist, prazosin, abolished all of the hemodynamic effects elicited by excitation of the RVLM except the tachycardia. Intravenous atropine methylnitrate blocked the bradycardia associated with excitation of the CVLM but did not alter the vascular resistance changes. These results indicate that the changes in heart rate did not contribute significantly to the resistance profiles described. The changes in vascular resistance elicited by excitation and inhibition of the RVLM were correlated with increase and decrease in the greater splanchnic nerve activity, respectively. In conclusion, neuron pools in the RVLM and CVLM exert differential effects upon resistance in different vascular beds via changes in sympathetic outflow. The relative balance between the opposing cardiovascular control exerted by the RVLM and CVLM is instrumental in determining basal vascular resistance and the distribution of cardiac output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-151
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology


  • Glutamate
  • Muscimol
  • Sympathetic outflow
  • Vascular resistance
  • Ventrolateral medulla

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