Remodeling of the guinea pig intrinsic cardiac plexus with chronic pressure overload

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Chronic pressure overload (PO) is associated with cardiac hypertrophy and altered autonomic control of cardiac function, in which the latter may involve adaptations in central and/or peripheral cardiac neural control mechanisms. To evaluate the specific remodeling of the intrinsic cardiac nervous system following pressure overload, the descending thoracic aorta artery of the guinea pig was constricted ∼20%, and the animals recovered for 9 wk. Thereafter, atrial neurons of the intrinsic cardiac plexus were isolated for electrophysiological and immunohistochemical analyses. Intracellular voltage recordings from intrinsic cardiac neurons demonstrated no significant changes in passive membrane properties or action potential depolarization compared with age-matched controls and sham-operated animals, but afterhyperpolarization duration was increased in PO animals. Neuronal excitability, as determined by the number of action potentials produced with depolarizing stimuli, was differentially increased in phasic neurons derived from PO animals in response to exogenously applied histamine compared with sham and age-matched controls. Conversely, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide-induced increases in intrinsic cardiac neuron evoked AP frequency were similar between control and PO animals. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated a two-fold increase in the percentage of neurons immunoreactive for neuronal nitric oxide synthase in PO animals compared with control. The density of mast cells within the intrinsic cardiac plexus from PO animals was also increased twofold compared with preparations from control animals. These results indicate that congestive heart failure associated with chronic pressure overload induces a differential remodeling of intrinsic cardiac neurons and upregulation of neuronal responsiveness to specific neuromodulators. Copyright © 2009 the American Physiological Society.

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American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology

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