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The autonomic nervous and respiratory systems, as well as their coupling, adapt over a wide range of conditions. Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) is a model for recurrent apneas and induces alterations in breathing and increases in sympathetic nerve activity which may ultimately result in hypertension if left untreated. These alterations are believed to be due to increases in the carotid body chemoreflex pathway. Here we present evidence that the nucleus tractus solitarii (nTS), the central brainstem termination site of chemoreceptor afferents, expresses a form of synaptic plasticity that increases overall nTS activity following intermittent hypoxia. Following CIH, an increase in presynaptic spontaneous neurotransmitter release occurs under baseline conditions. Furthermore, during and following afferent stimulation there is an augmentation of spontaneous transmitter release that occurs out of synchrony with sensory stimulation. On the other hand, afferent evoked synchronous transmitter release is attenuated. Overall, this shift from synchronous to asynchronous transmitter release enhances nTS cellular discharge. The role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in CIH-induced plasticity is also discussed. Dopamine attenuates synaptic transmission in nTS cells by blockade of N-type calcium channels, and this mechanism occurs tonically following normoxia and CIH. This dopaminergic pathway, however, is not altered in CIH. Taken together, alterations in nTS synaptic activity may play a role in the changes of chemoreflex function and cardiorespiratory activity in the CIH apnea model.
PMCID: PMC2953573  PMID: 20416405
chemoreflex; cardiovascular; baroreflex; respiration; synaptic transmission; action potential
2.  NADPH oxidase is required for the Sensory Plasticity of the Carotid body by Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia 
Respiratory moto-neuron response to hypoxia is reflex in nature and carotid body sensory receptor constitutes the afferent limb of this reflex. Recent studies showed that repetitive exposures to hypoxia evokes long term facilitation of sensory nerve discharge (sLTF) of the carotid body in rodents exposed to chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH). Although studies with anti-oxidants suggested the involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated signaling in eliciting sLTF, the source of and the mechanisms associated with ROS generation have not yet been investigated. We tested the hypothesis that ROS generated by NADPH oxidase (NOX) mediate CIH-evoked sLTF. Experiments were performed on ex vivo carotid bodies from rats and mice exposed either to 10 days of CIH or normoxia. Acute repetitive hypoxia evoked a ~12 fold increase in NOX activity in CIH but not in control carotid bodies, and this effect was associated with up-regulation of NOX2 mRNA and protein, which was primarily localized to glomus cells of the carotid body. sLTF was prevented by NOX inhibitors and was absent in mice deficient in NOX2. NOX activation by CIH required 5-HT release and activation of 5-HT2 receptors coupled to PKC signaling. Studies with ROS scavengers revealed that H2O2 generated from O2·− contributes to sLTF. Priming with H2O2 elicited sLTF of carotid bodies from normoxic control rats and mice, similar to that seen in CIH treated animals. These observations reveal a novel role for NOX-induced ROS signaling in mediating sensory plasticity of the carotid body.
PMCID: PMC2692682  PMID: 19369559
NADPH oxidase; intermittent hypoxia; sensory plasticity; recurrent apneas; sympathetic excitation; chemosensory
3.  Comparative analysis of neonatal and adult rat carotid body responses to chronic intermittent hypoxia 
Previous studies suggest that carotid body responses to long-term changes in environmental oxygen differ between neonates and adults. In the present study we tested the hypothesis that the effects of chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) on the carotid body differ between neonates and adult rats. Experiments were performed on neonatal (1–10 days) and adult (6–8 wk) males exposed either to CIH (9 episodes/h; 8 h/day) or to normoxia. Sensory activity was recorded from ex vivo carotid bodies. CIH augmented the hypoxic sensory response (HSR) in both groups. The magnitude of CIH-evoked hypoxic sensitization was significantly greater in neonates than in adults. Seventy-two episodes of CIH were sufficient to evoke hypoxic sensitization in neonates, whereas as many as 720 CIH episodes were required in adults, suggesting that neonatal carotid bodies are more sensitive to CIH than adult carotid bodies. CIH-induced hypoxic sensitization was reversed in adult rats after reexposure to 10 days of normoxia, whereas the effects of neonatal CIH persisted into adult life (2 mo). Acute intermittent hypoxia (IH) evoked sensory long-term facilitation of the carotid body activity (sensory LTF, i.e., increased baseline neural activity following acute IH) in CIH-exposed adults but not in neonates. The effects of CIH were associated with hyperplasia of glomus cells in neonatal but not in adult carotid bodies. These observations demonstrate that responses to CIH differ between neonates and adults with regard to the magnitude of sensitization of HSR, susceptibility to CIH, induction of sensory LTF, reversibility of the responses, and morphological remodeling of the chemoreceptor tissue.
PMCID: PMC3893879  PMID: 18187605
sensory long-term facilitation; hyperplasia; glomus cells
4.  Molecular Mechanisms of Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia and Hypertension 
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by episodes of repeated airway obstruction resulting in cessation (apnea) or reduction (hypopnea) in airflow during sleep. These events lead to intermittent hypoxia and hypercapnia, sleep fragmentation, and changes in intrathoracic pressure, and are associated with a marked surge in sympathetic activity and an abrupt increase in blood pressure. Blood pressure remains elevated during wakefulness despite the absence of obstructive events resulting in a high prevalence of hypertension in patients with OSA. There is substantial evidence that suggests that chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) leads to sustained sympathoexcitation during the day and changes in vasculature resulting in hypertension in patients with OSA. Mechanisms of sympathoexcitation include augmentation of peripheral chemoreflex sensitivity and a direct effect on central sites of sympathetic regulation. Interestingly, the vascular changes that occur with CIH have been ascribed to the same molecules that have been implicated in the augmented sympathetic tone in CIH. This review will discuss the hypothesized molecular mechanisms involved in the development of hypertension with CIH, will build a conceptual model for the development of hypertension following CIH, and will propose a systems biology approach in further elucidating the relationship between CIH and the development of hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3634614  PMID: 23140119
obstructive sleep apnea; hypertension; chronic intermittent hypoxia; sympathoexcitation; systems biology
5.  Resetting of the sympathetic baroreflex is associated with the onset of hypertension during chronic intermittent hypoxia 
Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) is a model of the arterial hypoxemia that accompanies sleep apnea and increases resting arterial pressure (AP). We examined the effects of 7 days exposure to CIH on arterial baroreflex control of renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and heart rate (HR) in rats. Sprague-Dawley rats (15 +/− 2 weeks old) were exposed to CIH (9% oxygen for 3min every 10 min, 8 h per day) for 7 days (n = 16) while control rats (n = 18) were maintained in normoxia. Baroreflex regulation of RSNA and HR were estimated in Inactin anesthetized and artificially ventilated rats during infusions of phenylephrine and nitroprusside to manipulate AP. After exposure to CIH, resting mean AP was higher in CIH than in control group (115 +/− 7 vs. 105 +/− 7, P<0.001). Resting HR did not differ between the two groups. Exposure to CIH shifted the AP-RSNA relationship rightward (approximately 10 mmHg, P<0.01). CIH did not alter maximum gain of the baroreflex control of RSNA (−2.6 +/− 0.6 vs. −2.5 +/− 0.6 arbitrary units (au)/mmHg) and HR (−1.8 +/− 0.6 vs. −1.8 +/− 0.7 bpm/mmHg, CIH vs. control). In addition, cardiac spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity in conscious rats (n = 8) also did not change during exposure to CIH. These results indicate that resetting of the sympathetic baroreflex control, rather than an impairment of its sensitivity, is associated with an onset of hypertension induced by CIH.
PMCID: PMC3529839  PMID: 23167993
sleep apnea; hypertension; sympathetic nerve activity; baroreflex
Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) raises arterial pressure, impairs vasodilator responsiveness, and increases circulating angiotensin II (Ang II); however, the role of Ang II in CIH-induced vascular dysfunction is unknown. Rats were exposed to CIH or room air (NORM), and a subset of these animals was treated with losartan (Los) during the exposure period. After 28 days, vasodilatory responses to acetylcholine or nitroprusside were measured in isolated gracilis arteries. Superoxide levels and Ang II receptor protein expression were measured in saphenous arteries. After 28 days, arterial pressure was increased and acetylcholine-induced vasodilation was blunted in CIH vs. NORM, and this was prevented by Los. Responses to nitroprusside and superoxide levels did not differ between CIH and NORM. Expression of AT2R was decreased and the AT1R:AT2R ratio was increased in CIH vs. NORM, but this was unaffected by Los. These results indicate that the blood pressure elevation and endothelial dysfunction associated with CIH is dependent, at least in part, on RAS signaling.
PMCID: PMC3409315  PMID: 22728949
Intermittent hypoxia; Endothelial function; Angiotensin II
7.  The Role of NADPH Oxidase in Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension in Mice 
Obstructive sleep apnea, characterized by intermittent periods of hypoxemia, is an independent risk factor for the development of pulmonary hypertension. However, the exact mechanisms of this disorder remain to be defined. Enhanced NADPH oxidase expression and superoxide (O2−·) generation in the pulmonary vasculature play a critical role in hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension. Therefore, the current study explores the hypothesis that chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) causes pulmonary hypertension, in part, by increasing NADPH oxidase–derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) that contribute to pulmonary vascular remodeling and hypertension. To test this hypothesis, male C57Bl/6 mice and gp91phox knockout mice were exposed to CIH for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week for 8 weeks. CIH mice were placed in a chamber where the oxygen concentration was cycled between 21% and 10% O2 45 times per hour. Exposure to CIH for 8 weeks increased right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), right ventricle (RV):left ventricle (LV) + septum (S) weight ratio, an index of RV hypertrophy, and thickness of the right ventricular anterior wall as measured by echocardiography. CIH exposure also caused pulmonary vascular remodeling as demonstrated by increased muscularization of the distal pulmonary vasculature. CIH-induced pulmonary hypertension was associated with increased lung levels of the NADPH oxidase subunits, Nox4 and p22phox, as well as increased activity of platelet-derived growth factor receptor β and its associated downstream effector, Akt kinase. These CIH-induced derangements were attenuated in similarly treated gp91phox knockout mice. These findings demonstrate that NADPH oxidase–derived ROS contribute to the development of pulmonary vascular remodeling and hypertension caused by CIH.
PMCID: PMC2677439  PMID: 18952568
hypoxia; pulmonary hypertension; nitric oxide; NADPH oxidase
8.  Glucoregulatory Consequences and Cardiorespiratory Parameters in Rats Exposed to Chronic–Intermittent Hypoxia: Effects of the Duration of Exposure and Losartan 
Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with glucose intolerance. Both chronic sleep disruption and recurrent blood oxygen desaturations (chronic–intermittent hypoxia, CIH) may cause, or exacerbate, metabolic derangements. Methods: To assess the impact of CIH alone, without accompanying upper airway obstructions, on the counter-regulatory response to glucose load and cardiorespiratory parameters, we exposed adult male Sprague-Dawley rats to CIH or sham room air exchanges for 10 h/day for 7, 21, or 35 days and then, 1 day after conclusion of CIH exposure, conducted intravenous glucose-tolerance tests (ivgtt) under urethane anesthesia. Additional rats underwent 35 days of CIH followed by 35 days of regular housing, or had 35 day-long CIH exposure combined with daily administration of the type 1 angiotensin II receptor antagonist, losartan (15 mg/kg, p.o.), and then were also subjected to ivgtt. Results: Compared with the corresponding control groups, CIH rats had progressively reduced glucose-stimulated insulin release and impaired glucose clearance, only mildly elevated heart rate and/or arterial blood pressure and slightly reduced respiratory rate. The differences in insulin release between the CIH and sham-treated rats disappeared in the rats normally housed for 35 days after 35 days of CIH/sham exposure. The losartan-treated rats had improved insulin sensitivity, with no evidence of suppressed insulin release in the CIH group. Conclusion: In adult rats, the glucose-stimulated insulin release is gradually suppressed with the duration of exposure to CIH, but the effect is reversible. Elimination of the detrimental effect of CIH on insulin release by losartan suggests that CIH disrupts glucoregulation through angiotensin/catecholaminergic pathways. Accordingly, treatment with continuous positive airway pressure may ameliorate pre-diabetic conditions in OSA patients, in part, by reducing sympathoexcitatory effects of recurrent nocturnal hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC3321439  PMID: 22509173
angiotensin II; blood pressure; diabetes; intravenous glucose-tolerance test; insulin; norepinephrine; obstructive sleep apnea; sympathetic system
9.  An essential role for ΔFosB in the median preoptic nucleus in the sustained hypertensive effects of chronic intermittent hypoxia 
Hypertension  2012;60(1):179-187.
One of the main clinical features of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is sustained hypertension and elevated sympathetic activity during waking hours. Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), animal model of the hypoxemia associated with OSA, produces a similar sustained increase in blood pressure. This study determined the role of ΔFosB in the median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) in the sustained increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP) associated with CIH. Rats were injected in the MnPO with viral vectors that expressed green fluorescent protein (GFP) alone or GFP plus a dominant negative construct that inhibits the transcriptional effects of ΔFosB. In GFP injected rats and uninjected controls, 7 day exposure to CIH increased MAP by 7–10 mmHg during both intermittent hypoxia exposure and normoxia. Dominant negative inhibition of MnPO ΔFosB did not affect changes in MAP during intermittent hypoxia exposure but significantly reduced the sustained component of the blood pressure response to CIH during the normoxic dark phase. Inhibition of MnPO ΔFosB reduced the FosB/ΔFosB staining in the paraventricular nucleus and rostral ventrolateral medulla but not the nucleus of the solitary tract. PCR-array analysis identified five AP-1 regulated genes expressed in the MnPO that were increased by CIH exposure: ace1, ace2, nos1, nos3, prdx2, and map3k3. Dominant negative inhibition of ΔFosB in the MnPO blocked increased expression of each of these genes in rats exposed to CIH except for Prdx2. ΔFosB may mediate transcriptional activity in MnPO necessary for sustained CIH hypertension suggesting that neural adaptations may contribute to diurnal hypertension in OSA.
PMCID: PMC3415378  PMID: 22689746
hypertension; sleep apnea; angiotensin; hypothalamus; sympathetic nervous system
10.  Nitric Oxide and Superoxide Anion Balance in Rats Exposed to Chronic and Long Term Intermittent Hypoxia 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:610474.
Work at high altitude in shifts exposes humans to a new form of chronic intermittent hypoxia, with still unknown health consequences. We have established a rat model resembling this situation, which develops a milder form of right ventricular hypertrophy and pulmonary artery remodelling compared to continuous chronic exposure. We aimed to compare the alterations in pulmonary artery nitric oxide (NO) availability induced by these forms of hypoxia and the mechanisms implicated. Rats were exposed for 46 days to normoxia or hypobaric hypoxia, either continuous (CH) or intermittent (2 day shifts, CIH2x2), and assessed: NO and superoxide anion availability (fluorescent indicators and confocal microscopy); expression of phosphorylated endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), NADPH-oxidase (p22phox), and 3-nitrotyrosine (western blotting); and NADPH-oxidase location (immunohistochemistry). Compared to normoxia, (1) NO availability was reduced and superoxide anion was increased in both hypoxic groups, with a larger effect in CH, (2) eNOS expression was only reduced in CH, (3) NADPH-oxidase was similarly increased in both hypoxic groups, and (4) 3-nitrotyrosine was increased to a larger extent in CH. In conclusion, intermittent hypoxia reduces NO availability through superoxide anion destruction, without reducing its synthesis, while continuous hypoxia affects both, producing larger nitrosative damage which could be related to the more severe cardiovascular alterations.
PMCID: PMC3955675  PMID: 24719876
11.  Chronic intermittent hypoxia induces NMDA receptor-dependent plasticity and suppresses nitric oxide signaling in the mouse hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus 
Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) is a concomitant of sleep apnea that produces a slowly developing chemosensory-dependent blood pressure elevation ascribed in part to NMDA receptor-dependent plasticity and reduced nitric oxide (NO) signaling in the carotid body. The hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is responsive to hypoxic stress and also contains neurons that express NMDA receptors and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). We tested the hypothesis that extended (35 day) CIH results in a decrease in the surface/synaptic availability of the essential NMDA NR1 subunit in nNOS-containing neurons and NMDA-induced NO production in the PVN of mice. As compared with controls, the 35 day CIH-exposed mice showed a significant increase in blood pressure and an increased density of NR1 immunogold particles located in the cytoplasm of nNOS-containing dendrites. Neither of these between-group differences was seen after 14 days, even though there was already a reduction in the NR1 plasmalemmal density at this time point. Patch-clamp recording of PVN neurons in slices showed a significant reduction in NMDA currents after either 14 or 35 day exposure to CIH as compared with sham controls. In contrast, NO production, as measured by the NO-sensitive fluorescent dye DAF-FM, was suppressed only in the 35 day CIH group. We conclude that CIH produces a reduction in the surface/synaptic targeting of NR1 in nNOS neurons and decreases NMDA receptor-mediated currents in the PVN prior to the emergence of hypertension, the development of which may be enabled by suppression of NO signaling in this brain region.
PMCID: PMC2951676  PMID: 20826673
hypertension; sleep apnea; sympathetic nerve activity; NR1; immunocytochemistry; electron microscopy
12.  Chronic intermittent hypoxia reduces neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptor density in small dendrites of non-catecholaminergic neurons in mouse nucleus tractus solitarius 
Experimental neurology  2010;223(2):634-644.
Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) is a frequent concomitant of sleep apnea, which can increase sympathetic nerve activity through mechanisms involving chemoreceptor inputs to the commissural nucleus of the solitary tract (cNTS). These chemosensory inputs co-store glutamate and substance P (SP), an endogenous ligand for neurokinin-1 (NK1) receptors. Acute hypoxia results in internalization of NK1 receptors, suggesting that CIH also may affect the subcellular distribution of NK1 receptors in subpopulations of cNTS neurons, some of which may express tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate-limiting enzyme for catecholamine synthesis (TH). To test this hypothesis, we examined dual immunolabeling for the NK1 receptor and TH in the cNTS of male mice subjected to 10 days or 35 days of CIH or intermittent air. Electron microscopy revealed that NK1 receptors and TH were almost exclusively localized within separate somatodendritic profiles in cNTS of control mice. In dendrites, immunogold particles identifying NK1 receptors were prevalent in the cytoplasm and on the plasmalemmal surface. Compared with controls, CIH produced a significant region-specific decrease in the cytoplasmic (10 and 35 days, P< 0.05, unpaired Student t-test) and extrasynaptic plasmalemmal (35 days, P< 0.01, unpaired Student t-test) density of NK1 immunogold particles exclusively in small (<0.1 µm) dendrites without TH immunoreactivity. These results suggest that CIH produces a duration-dependent reduction in the availability of NK1 receptors preferentially in small dendrites of non-catecholaminergic neurons in the cNTS. The implications of our findings are discussed with respect to their potential involvement in the slowly developing hypertension seen in sleep apnea patients.
PMCID: PMC2864350  PMID: 20206166
peptide receptors; sleep apnea; hypertension; respiratory reflexes; substance P
13.  Reactive Oxygen Species and Respiratory Plasticity Following Intermittent Hypoxia 
Respiratory physiology & neurobiology  2008;164(1-2):263-271.
The neural network controlling breathing exhibits plasticity in response to environmental or physiological challenges. For example, while hypoxia initiates rapid and robust increases in respiratory motor output to defend against hypoxemia, it also triggers persistent changes, or plasticity, in chemosensory neurons and integrative pathways that transmit brainstem respiratory activity to respiratory motor neurons. Frequently studied models of hypoxia-induced respiratory plasticity include: 1) carotid chemosensory plasticity and metaplasticity induced by chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), and 2) acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH) induced phrenic long-term facilitation (pLTF) in naïve and CIH preconditioned rats. These forms of plasticity share some mechanistic elements, although they differ in anatomical location and the requirement for CIH preconditioning. Both forms of plasticity require serotonin receptor activation and formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). While the cellular sources and targets of ROS are not well known, recent evidence suggests that ROS modify the balance of protein phosphatase and kinase activities, shifting the balance towards net phosphorylation and favoring cellular reactions that induce and/or maintain plasticity. Here, we review possible sources of ROS, and the impact of ROS on phosphorylation events relevant to respiratory plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2642907  PMID: 18692605
ROS; kinase; phosphatase; serotonin; phrenic; long-term facilitation; carotid body; NADPH oxidase
14.  Time-Dependent Adaptation in the Hemodynamic Response to Hypoxia 
In rats, acute exposure to hypoxia causes a decrease in mean arterial pressure (MAP) caused by a predominance of hypoxic vasodilation over chemoreflex-induced vasoconstriction. We previously demonstrated that exposure to chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) impairs hypoxic vasodilation in isolated resistance arteries; therefore, we hypothesized that the acute systemic hemodynamic responses to hypoxia would be altered by exposure to CIH. To test this hypothesis, rats were exposed to CIH for 14 days. Heart rate (HR) and MAP were monitored by telemetry. On the first day of CIH exposure, acute episodes of hypoxia caused a decrease in MAP (-9±5 mmHg) and an increase in HR (+45±4 beats/minute). On the 14th day of CIH exposure the depressor response was attenuated (-4±1 mmHg; 44% of the day 1 response) and the tachycardia enhanced (+68±2 beats/minute; 151% of the day 1 response). The observed time-dependent modulation of the acute hemodynamic responses to hypoxia may reflect important changes in neurocirculatory regulation that contribute to CIH-induced hypertension.
PMCID: PMC2662762  PMID: 19013546
blood pressure; heart rate; intermittent hypoxia
15.  Cardiovascular responses to cold exposure 
The prevalence of hypertension is increased in winter and in cold regions of the world. Cold temperatures make hypertension worse and trigger cardiovascular complications (stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure, etc.). Chronic or intermittent exposure to cold causes hypertension and cardiac hypertrophy in animals. The purpose of this review is to provide the recent advances in the mechanistic investigation of cold-induced hypertension (CIH). Cold temperatures increase the activities of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). The SNS initiates CIH via the RAS. Cold exposure suppresses the expression of eNOS and formation of NO, increases the production of endothelin-1 (ET-1), up-regulates ETA receptors, but down-regulates ETB receptors. The roles of these factors and their relations in CIH will be reviewed.
PMCID: PMC2826836  PMID: 20036896
cold-induced hypertension; cold-induced cardiac hypertrophy; cold; blood pressure; sympathetic nervous system; renin-angiotensin system; endothelin; mineralocorticoid receptor; eNOS; c-myc
16.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Oxidative Stress and Cardiovascular Disease: Lessons from Animal Studies 
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) diseases such as arterial hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. Based on human research, sympathetic activation, inflammation, and oxidative stress are thought to play major roles in the pathophysiology of OSA-related CV diseases. Animal models of OSA have shown that endothelial dysfunction, vascular remodelling, and systemic and pulmonary arterial hypertension as well as heart failure can develop in response to chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH). The available animal data are clearly in favour of oxidative stress playing a key role in the development of all of these CV manifestations of OSA. Presumably, the oxidative stress is due to an activation of NADPH oxidase and other free oxygen radicals producing enzymes within the CV system as evidenced by data from knockout mice and pharmacological interventions. It is hoped that animal models of OSA-related CV disease will continue to contribute to a deeper understanding of their underlying pathophysiology and will foster the way for the development of cardioprotective treatment options other than conventional CPAP therapy.
PMCID: PMC3603718  PMID: 23533685
17.  Manganese Superoxide Dismutase Protects Mouse Cortical Neurons From Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia-Mediated Oxidative Damage 
Neurobiology of disease  2007;28(2):206-215.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) syndrome has been recognized as a highly prevalent public health problem and is associated with major neurobehavioral morbidity. Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), a major pathological component of OSA, increases oxidative damage to the brain cortex and decreases neurocognitive function in rodent models resembling human OSA. We employed in vitro and in vivo approaches to identify the specific phases and subcellular compartments in which enhanced reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated during CIH. In addition, we utilized the cell culture and animal models to analyze the consequences of enhanced production of ROS on cortical neuronal cell damage and neurocognitive dysfunction. In a primary cortical neuron culture system, we demonstrated that the transition phase from hypoxia to normoxia (NOX) during CIH generates more ROS than the transition phase from NOX to hypoxia or hypoxia alone, all of which generate more ROS than NOX. Using selective inhibitors of the major pathways underlying ROS generation in the cell membrane, cytosol, and mitochondria, we showed that the mitochondria are the predominant source of enhanced ROS generation during CIH in mouse cortical neuronal cells. Furthermore, in both cell culture and transgenic mice, we demonstrated that overexpression of MnSOD decreased CIH-mediated cortical neuronal apoptosis, and reduced spatial learning deficits measured with the Morris water maze assay. Together, the data from the in vitro and in vivo experiments indicate that CIH-mediated mitochondrial oxidative stress may play a major role in the neuronal cell loss and neurocognitive dysfunction in OSA. Thus, therapeutic strategies aiming at reducing ROS generation from mitochondria may improve the neurobehavioral morbidity in OSA.
PMCID: PMC2100412  PMID: 17719231
18.  Cyclic Intermittent Hypoxia Enhances Renal Sympathetic Response To ICV ET-1 In Conscious Rats 
To test the hypothesis that central changes in sympathoregulation might contribute to sympathoexcitation after cyclic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) we exposed male Sprague-Dawley rats to CIH or to room air sham (Sham) for 8 hours/d for 3 weeks. After completion of the exposure we assessed heart rate, mean arterial pressure and renal sympathetic nerve activity in conscious animals before and after intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of endothelin-1 (ET-1, 3 pmol). CIH-exposed animals had a significantly greater sympathetic response to ET-1 than did Sham-exposed animals (CIH 137.8 ± 15.6% of baseline; Sham 112.2 ± 10.0 % of baseline; CIH vs. Sham, P = 0.0373). This enhanced sympathetic response to i.c.v. ET-1 was associated with greater expression of endothelin receptor A (ETA) protein in the subfornical organs of CIH-exposed relative to Sham-exposed rats. We conclude that 3-week CIH exposure enhances central ET-1 receptor expression and the sympathetic response to i.c.v. ET-1 suggesting central endothelin may contribute to the sympathetic and hemodynamic response to cyclic intermittent hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC2884044  PMID: 20227529
Intermittent hypoxia; sympathetic nervous system; endothelin; subfornical organ; intracerebroventricular injection
19.  Adiponectin Protects Rat Myocardium against Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia-Induced Injury via Inhibition of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94545.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is associated with many cardiovascular disorders such as heart failure, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and arrhythmia and so on. Of the many associated factors, chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) in particular is the primary player in OSAS. To assess the effects of CIH on cardiac function secondary to OSAS, we established a model to study the effects of CIH on Wistar rats. Specifically, we examined the possible underlying cellular mechanisms of hypoxic tissue damage and the possible protective role of adiponectin against hypoxic insults. In the first treatment group, rats were exposed to CIH conditions (nadir O2, 5–6%) for 8 hours/day, for 5 weeks. Subsequent CIH-induced cardiac dysfunction was measured by echocardiograph. Compared with the normal control (NC) group, rats in the CIH-exposed group experienced elevated levels of left ventricular end-systolic dimension and left ventricular end-systolic volume and depressed levels of left ventricular ejection fraction and left ventricular fractional shortening (p<0.05). However, when adiponectin (Ad) was added in CIH + Ad group, we saw a rescue in the elevations of the aforementioned left ventricular function (p<0.05). To assess critical cardiac injury, we detected myocardial apoptosis by Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transfer-mediated dUTP nick end-labeling (TUNEL) analysis. It was showed that the apoptosis percentage in CIH group (2.948%) was significantly higher than that in NC group (0.4167%) and CIH + Ad group (1.219%) (p<0.05). Protein expressions of cleaved caspase-3, cleaved caspase-9, and cleaved-caspase-12 validated our TUNEL results (p<0.05). Mechanistically, our results demonstrated that the proteins expressed with endoplasmic reticulum stress and the expression of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were significantly elevated under CIH conditions, whereas Ad supplementation partially decreased them. Overall, our results suggested that Ad augmentation could improve CIH-induced left ventricular dysfunction and associated myocardial apoptosis by inhibition of ROS-dependent ER stress.
PMCID: PMC3981809  PMID: 24718591
20.  Serotonin and NMDA receptors in respiratory long-term facilitation 
Respiratory physiology & neurobiology  2008;164(1-2):233-241.
Some have postulated that long-term facilitation (LTF), a persistent augmentation of respiratory activity after episodic hypoxia, may play a beneficial role in helping stabilize upper airway patency in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients. However, the neuronal and cellular mechanisms underlying this plasticity of respiratory motor behavior are still poorly understood. The main purpose of this review is to summarize recent findings about serotonin and NMDA receptors involved in both LTF and its enhancement after chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH). The potential roles of these receptors in the initiation, formation and/or maintenance of LTF, as well as the CIH effect on LTF, will be discussed. As background, different paradigms for the stimulus protocol, different patterns of LTF expression and their mechanistic implications in LTF will also be discussed.
PMCID: PMC2654195  PMID: 18606575
Respiratory control; Plasticity; Long-term facilitation, Intermittent hypoxia; Serotonin receptors; NMDA receptors
21.  Erectile Dysfunction in a Murine Model of Sleep Apnea 
Rationale: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is frequent in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). Chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), one of the hallmarks of OSAS, could mediate ED.
Objectives: To determine whether intermittent hypoxia during sleep affects erectile dysfunction in mice.
Methods: Three groups of C57BL/6 mice were exposed to CIH for 5 or 24 weeks. Sexual function was evaluated by in vivo telemetry of corpus spongiosum pressure. Spontaneous erections, sexual activity during mating, and noncontact tests were assessed after 5 weeks of CIH and after treatment with tadalafil. Plasma testosterone was measured after 8 and 24 weeks of CIH, and the expression of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms was examined in penile tissue.
Measurements and Main Results: Noncontact, spontaneous, and contact sexual activity in the mice was suppressed after CIH. Spontaneous erection counts decreased after the first week of CIH by 55% (P < 0.001) and remained unchanged thereafter. Recovery of erectile activity during normoxia for 6 weeks was incomplete. Compared with control mice, latencies for mounts and intromissions increased by 60- and 40-fold, respectively (P < 0.001), and the sexual activity index decreased sixfold. Tadalafil treatment significantly attenuated these effects. Immunoblot analyses of NOS proteins in the erectile tissue showed decreased expression of endothelial NOS after CIH (P < 0.01), with no changes in plasma testosterone levels after 8 and 24 weeks of CIH.
Conclusions: CIH during sleep is associated with decreased libido in mice. The decreased expression of endothelial NOS protein in erectile tissue and the favorable response to tadalafil suggest that altered nitric oxide mechanisms underlie CIH-mediated ED. No changes in testosterone emerge after intermittent hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC2542437  PMID: 18535258
nitric oxide synthase; erectile dysfunction; sleep apnea; intermittent hypoxia
22.  Chronic intermittent hypoxia sensitizes acute hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress reactivity and Fos induction in the rat locus coeruleus in response to subsequent immobilization stress 
Neuroscience  2008;154(4):1639-1647.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with several pathophysiological conditions, including hypertension, obesity, insulin resistance, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) dysregulation, and other endocrine and metabolic disturbances comprising the “metabolic syndrome”. Repeated episodes of hypoxia in OSA may represent a chronic intermittent stress, leading to HPA dysregulation. Alterations in HPA reactivity could then contribute to or exacerbate other pathophysiological processes. We showed previously that another metabolic stressor, chronic intermittent cold stress, enhanced noradrenergic facilitation of acute HPA stress reactivity. In this study, we investigated whether chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), a rat model for the arterial hypoxemia that accompanies OSA, similarly sensitizes the HPA response to novel acute stress. Rats were exposed to CIH (alternating cycles of normoxia [3 min at 21% O2] and hypoxia [3 min at 10% O2], repeated continuously for 8 hr/day during the light portion of the cycle for 7 days). On the day after the final CIH exposure, there were no differences in baseline plasma ACTH, but the peak ACTH response to 30 min acute immobilization stress was greater in CIH-stressed rats than in controls. Induction of Fos expression by acute immobilization stress was comparable following CIH in several HPA-modulatory brain regions, including the paraventricular nucleus, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and amygdala. Fos induction was attenuated in lateral hypothalamus, an HPA-inhibitory region. By contrast, acute Fos induction was enhanced in noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus following CIH exposure. Thus, similar to chronic cold stress, CIH sensitized acute HPA- and noradrenergic stress reactivity. Plasticity in the acute stress response is important for long-term adaptation, but may also contribute to pathophysiological conditions associated with states of chronic or repeated stress, such as OSA. Determining the neural mechanisms underlying these adaptations may help us better understand the etiology of such disorders, and inform the development of more effective treatments.
PMCID: PMC2522385  PMID: 18554809
adrenocorticotropic hormone; metabolic syndrome; norepinephrine; obstructive sleep apnea; paraventricular nucleus; stress
23.  Dyslipidemia and Atherosclerosis Induced by Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia Are Attenuated by Deficiency of Stearoyl Coenzyme A Desaturase 
Circulation research  2008;103(10):1173-1180.
Obstructive sleep apnea leads to chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) and is associated with atherosclerosis. We have previously shown that C57BL/6J mice exposed to CIH and a high-cholesterol diet develop dyslipidemia, atherosclerosis of the aorta, and upregulation of a hepatic enzyme of lipoprotein secretion, stearoyl coenzyme A desaturase 1 (SCD-1). We hypothesized that (1) SCD-1 deficiency will prevent dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis during CIH; and (2) human OSA is associated with dyslipidemia and upregulation of hepatic SCD. C57BL/6J mice were exposed to CIH or normoxia for 10 weeks while being treated with either SCD-1 or control antisense oligonucleotides. Obese human subjects underwent sleep study and bariatric surgery with intraoperative liver biopsy. In mice, hypoxia increased hepatic SCD-1 and plasma very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and induced atherosclerosis lesions in the ascending aorta (the cross-section area of 156514±57408 μm2), and descending aorta (7.0±1.2% of the total aortic surface). In mice exposed to CIH and treated with SCD-1 antisense oligonucleotides, dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis in the ascending aorta were abolished, whereas lesions in the descending aorta showed 56% reduction. None of the mice exposed to normoxia developed atherosclerosis. In human subjects, hepatic SCD mRNA levels correlated with the degree of nocturnal hypoxemia (r=0.68, P=0.001). Patients exhibiting oxyhemoglobin desaturations at night showed higher plasma triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, compared to subjects without hypoxemia. In conclusion, CIH is associated with dyslipidemia and overexpression of hepatic SCD in both humans and mice alike; SCD-1 deficiency attenuates CIH-induced dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis in mice.
PMCID: PMC2658638  PMID: 18832746
atherosclerosis; hypercholesterolemia; hypoxia; lipoproteins; obstructive sleep apnea
24.  Effects of Cyclic Intermittent Hypoxia on ET-1 Responsiveness and Endothelial Dysfunction of Pulmonary Arteries in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58078.
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a risk factor for cardiovascular disorders and in some cases is complication of pulmonary hypertension. We simulated OSA by exposing rats to cyclic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) to investigate its effect on pulmonary vascular endothelial dysfunction. Sprague-Dawley Rats were exposed to CIH (FiO2 9% for 1 min, repeated every 2 min for 8 h/day, 7 days/wk for 3 wk), and the pulmonary arteries of normoxia and CIH treated rats were analyzed for expression of endothelin-1 (ET-1) and ET receptors by histological, immunohistochemical, RT-PCR and Western Blot analyses, as well as for contractility in response to ET-1. In the pulmonary arteries, ET-1 expression was increased, and ET-1 more potently elicited constriction of the pulmonary artery in CIH rats than in normoxic rats. Exposure to CIH induced marked endothelial cell damage associated with a functional decrease of endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in the pulmonary artery. Compared with normoxic rats, ETA receptor expression was increased in smooth muscle cells of the CIH rats, while the expression of ETB receptors was decreased in endothelial cells. These results demonstrated endothelium-dependent vasodilation was impaired and the vasoconstrictor responsiveness increased by CIH. The increased responsiveness to ET-1 induced by intermittent hypoxia in pulmonary arteries of rats was due to increased expression of ETA receptors predominantly, meanwhile, decreased expression of ETB receptors in the endothelium may also participate in it.
PMCID: PMC3589442  PMID: 23555567
25.  Endothelin 1–Dependent Neurovascular Dysfunction in Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia 
Hypertension  2012;60(1):106-113.
Obstructive sleep apnea, a condition resulting in chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), is an independent risk factor for stroke and dementia, but the mechanisms of the effect are unknown. We tested the hypothesis that CIH increases cerebrovascular risk by altering critical mechanisms regulating cerebral blood flow thereby lowering cerebrovascular reserves. Male C57Bl6/J mice were subjected to CIH (10% O2 for 90 seconds/room air for 90 seconds; during sleep hours) or sham treatment for 35 days. Somatosensory cortex blood flow was assessed by laser Doppler flowmetry in anesthetized mice equipped with a cranial window. CIH increased mean arterial pressure (from 74±2 to 83±3 mm Hg; P<0.05) and attenuated the blood flow increase produced by neural activity (whisker stimulation; −39±2%; P<0.05) or neocortical application of endothelium-dependent vasodilators (acetylcholine response: −41±3%; P<0.05). The cerebrovascular dysfunction was associated with oxidative stress in cerebral resistance arterioles and was abrogated by free radical scavenging or NADPH oxidase inhibition. Furthermore, cerebrovascular dysfunction and free radical increase were not observed in mice lacking the NOX2 subunit of NADPH oxidase. CIH markedly increased endothelin 1 in cerebral blood vessels, whereas cerebrovascular dysfunction and oxidative stress were abrogated by neocortical application of the endothelin type A receptor antagonist BQ123. These data demonstrate for the first time that CIH alters key regulatory mechanisms of the cerebral circulation through endothelin 1 and NADPH oxidase– derived radicals. The ensuing cerebrovascular dysfunction may increase stroke risk in patients with sleep apnea by reducing cerebrovascular reserves and increasing the brain’s susceptibility to cerebral ischemia.
PMCID: PMC3529143  PMID: 22689747
obstructive sleep apnea; reactive oxygen species; neurovascular coupling; endothelium-dependent vasodilation

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