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The carotid body (CB), a main peripheral arterial chemoreceptor, has lately been implicated in the pathophysiology of various cardiovascular disorders. Emerging experimental evidence supports a causal relationship between CB dysfunction and augmented sympathetic outflow which is the common hallmark of human sympathetic-related diseases, including essential hypertension. To gain insight into the neurotransmitter profile of chemosensory cells in the hypertensive CB, we examined the expression and cellular localization of some classical neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and gaseous signaling molecules as well as neurotrophic factors and their receptors in the CB of spontaneously hypertensive rats, a common animal model of hypertension. Our immunohistochemical experiments revealed an elevated catecholamine and serotonin content in the hypertensive CB compared to normotensive controls. GABA immunostaining was seen in some peripherally located glomus cells in the CB of SHR and it was significantly lower than in control animals. The density of substance P and vasoactive intestinal peptide-immunoreactive fibers was diminished whereas that of neuropeptide Y-immunostained nerve fibers was increased and that of calcitonin gene-related peptide-containing fibers remained almost unchanged in the hypertensive CB. We have further demonstrated that in the hypertensive state the production of nitric oxide is impaired and that the components of the neurotrophin signaling system display an abnormal enhanced expression. Our results provide immunohistochemical evidence that the altered transmitter phenotype of CB chemoreceptor cells and the elevated production of neurotrophic factors modulate the chemosensory processing in hypertensive animals which contributes to autonomic dysfunction and elicits sympathetic hyperactivity, consequently leading to elevated blood pressure. © 2022 American Association for Anatomy.


Dimitrinka Y Atanasova, Angel D Dandov, Nikolai E Lazarov. Neurochemical plasticity of the carotid body in hypertension. Anatomical record (Hoboken, N.J. : 2007). 2023 Sep;306(9):2366-2377

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PMID: 37561329

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