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1.  Structure of Microvascular Networks in Genetic Hypertension 
Methods in Enzymology  2008;444:271-284.
Microvascular rarefaction, defined by a loss of terminal arterioles, small venules and/or capillaries, is a common characteristic of the hypertension syndrome. While rarefaction has been associated with vessel specific free radical production, deficient leukocyte adhesion, and cellular apoptosis, the relationships of rarefaction with structural alterations at the network and cellular level remain largely unexplored. The objective of this study was to examine the architecture and perivascular cell phenotypes along microvascular networks in hypertensive versus normotensive controls in the context of imbalanced angiogenesis. Mesenteric tissues from age-matched adult male spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were harvested and immnolabeled for PECAM and neuron-glia antigen 2 (NG2). Evaluation of intact rat mesenteric microvascular networks rats suggests that network alterations associated with hypertension are more complex than just a loss of vessels. Typical SHR versus WKY networks demonstrate a reduced branching architecture marked by more proximal arteriole/venous anastomoses and an absence of NG2 labeling along arterioles. Although less frequent, larger SHR microvascular networks display regions of dramatically increased vascular density. SHR and WKY lymphatic networks demonstrate increased vessel diameters and vascular density compared to networks in normotensive Wistar rats (the strain from which both the SHR and WKY originated). These observations provide a rationale for investigating the presence of local angiogenic factors and response of microvascular networks to therapies aimed at reversing rarefaction in genetic hypertension.
doi:10.1016/S0076-6879(08)02812-7
PMCID: PMC3325543  PMID: 19007669
2.  Matrix Metalloproteinase Activity Causes VEGFR-2 Cleavage and Microvascular Rarefaction in Rat Mesentery 
A complication of the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is microvascular rarefaction, defined by the loss of microvessels. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in this process remain incompletely identified. Recent work in our laboratory suggests that matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may play a role by cleavage of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2). In order to further delineate the role for MMPs in microvascular rarefaction, the objective of the current study was to examine the relationship in the same tissue between MMP activity, VEGFR-2 cleavage and rarefaction. Using an in-vivo microzymographic technique we show significantly enhanced levels of MMP-1, -1/-9, -7, and -8 activities, but not MMP-2 and-3 activities, along mesenteric microvessels of the SHR compared to its normotensive control, Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rat. Based on immunohistochemical methods, the SHR exhibited a decreased labeling of the extracellular, but not the intracellular, domain of VEGFR-2 along mesenteric microvessels. Chronic MMP inhibition served to attenuate VEGFR-2 cleavage and microvascular network rarefaction in the SHR mesentery. These results spatially link MMP-induced VEGFR-2 cleavage and rarefaction in the mesentery of the SHR and thus support the hypothesis that MMPs serve as regulators of microvascular dysfunction in hypertension.
doi:10.1111/j.1549-8719.2011.00082.x
PMCID: PMC3081385  PMID: 21418372
Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat; Wister Kyoto rat; capillary; arteriole; venule; microzymography; matrix metalloproteinase inhibition
3.  The effect of microvascular pattern alterations on network resistance in spontaneously hypertensive rats 
Structural microvascular rarefaction, defined by a loss of vessels, is a common characteristic of hypertension and has been associated with elevated microvascular resistance. However, determining the causal relationship between microvascular network structure and resistance requires a consideration of all pattern changes throughout a network. The objectives of this study were to determine whether microvascular rarefaction is associated with other network pattern alterations and to evaluate whether pattern alterations in hypertension necessarily contribute to increased microvascular resistance. Mesenteric tissues from age-matched (15–16 weeks) male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were harvested and immunolabeled for PECAM. SHR networks displayed a decreased microvascular area, arteriolar-venular (AV) length, number of AV branches, and number of capillary segments. In addition, SHR networks displayed increased AV connections per network compared to WKY networks. Based on network geometries, resistance per network was calculated using a computational model. For simulations with equal vessel diameter and with relative diameters based on reported intravital measurements, SHR microvascular network resistance was not elevated compared to the WKY level. Our results suggest that microvascular pattern alterations associated with hypertension are more complex than vessel loss, and that these combined alterations do not necessarily lead to elevated resistance.
doi:10.1007/s11517-012-0912-x
PMCID: PMC3608097  PMID: 22562369
Microcirculation; Rarefaction; Hypertension; Mesentery; Resistance; SHR
4.  Enhanced Matrix Metalloproteinase Activity in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat: VEGFR-2 Cleavage, Endothelial Apoptosis, and Capillary Rarefaction 
Journal of Vascular Research  2010;47(5):423-431.
Besides an elevated blood pressure, the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) has multiple microvascular complications including endothelial apoptosis with capillary rarefaction. The SHR also has elevated levels of proteolytic (e.g. matrix metalloproteinase, MMP) activity and apoptosis in microvascular cells compared to its normotensive control, but the specific enzymes involved and the molecular mechanism for apoptosis are unknown. We hypothesize that selected MMPs cleave the extracellular domain of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2), which in turn causes endothelial apoptosis and capillary rarefaction. Zymographic analysis shows that gelatinase (MMP-2 and MMP-9) and matrilysin (MMP-7) activities are significantly enhanced in SHR plasma. The SHR has lower levels of the extracellular domains of VEGFR-2 in cardiac microvessels. Furthermore, application of plasma from the SHR, or purified MMP-9 and MMP-7 to naïve cells causes cleavage of the extracellular domain of VEGFR-2. The receptor cleavage was blocked by broad-acting MMP inhibitors (GM6001 1 μM, EDTA 10 mM, or doxycycline 11.3 μM). Chronic MMP inhibition (doxycycline, 5.4 mg/kg/day, 24 weeks) attenuated VEGFR-2 cleavage, endothelial apoptosis, and capillary rarefaction in the SHR. These results suggest elevated plasma MMP activities may cleave VEGFR-2, resulting in endothelial apoptosis and capillary rarefaction in the SHR.
doi:10.1159/000281582
PMCID: PMC2968763  PMID: 20145415
Capillary density; Hypertension; Matrix metalloproteinases; Vascular endothelial growth factor
5.  Sex‐specific alterations in NOS regulation of vascular function in aorta and mesenteric arteries from spontaneously hypertensive rats compared to Wistar Kyoto rats 
Physiological Reports  2014;2(8):e12125.
Abstract
The present study tested the hypothesis that spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) have impaired nitric oxide synthase (NOS)‐mediated regulation of vascular function versus Wistar‐Kyoto rats (WKY). Aorta and small mesenteric arteries were studied from male and female SHR (M SHR and F SHR) and WKY (M WKY and F WKY). Phenylephrine (PE)‐induced vasoconstriction was greater in aorta of M SHR versus all others (P < 0.05); there were neither sex nor strain differences in PE contraction in mesenteric arteries. The NOS inhibitor l‐Nitro‐Arginine Methyl Ester (l‐NAME) increased PE‐induced vasoconstriction in all rats, although the increase was the least in male SHR (P < 0.05), revealing a blunted vasoconstrictor buffering capacity of NOS. l‐NAME increased sensitivity to PE‐induced constriction only in mesenteric arteries of SHR, although, the maximal percent increase in contraction was comparable among groups. ACh‐induced relaxation was also less in aorta from M SHR versus all others (P < 0.05). ACh relaxation was comparable among groups in mesenteric arteries, although SHR exhibited a greater NOS component to ACh‐induced relaxation than WKY. To gain mechanistic insight into sex and strain differences in vascular function, NOS activity and NOS3 protein expression were measured. Aortic NOS activity was comparable between groups and M SHR had greater NOS3 expression than M WKY. In contrast, although vascular function was largely maintained in mesenteric arteries of SHR, NOS activity was less in SHR versus WKY. In conclusion, M SHR exhibit a decrease in NOS regulation of vascular function compared to F SHR and WKY, although this is not mediated by decreases in NOS activity and/or expression.
The present study tested the hypothesis that spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) have impaired nitric oxide synthase (NOS)‐mediated regulation of vascular function versus Wistar‐Kyoto rats (WKY). Aorta and small mesenteric arteries were studied from male and female SHR and WKY. Male SHR showed a decreased NOS regulation of vascular function compared to F SHR and WKY, although this was not mediated by decreases in NOS activity and/or expression.
doi:10.14814/phy2.12125
PMCID: PMC4246578  PMID: 25168874
NOS activity; NOS expression; phenylephrine; SHR
6.  Longitudinal Evaluation of Left Ventricular Substrate Metabolism, Perfusion, and Dysfunction in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat Model of Hypertrophy Using Small-Animal PET/CT Imaging 
Myocardial metabolic and perfusion imaging is a vital tool for understanding the physiologic consequences of heart failure. We used PET imaging to examine the longitudinal kinetics of 18F-FDG and 14(R,S)-18F-fluoro-6-thia-heptadecanoic acid (18F-FTHA) as analogs of glucose and fatty acid (FA) to quantify metabolic substrate shifts with the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) as a model of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and failure. Myocardial perfusion and left ventricular function were also investigated using a newly developed radiotracer 18F-fluorodihydrorotenol (18F-FDHROL).
Methods
Longitudinal dynamic electrocardiogram-gated small-animal PET/CT studies were performed with 8 SHR and 8 normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats over their life cycle. We determined the myocardial influx rate constant for 18F-FDG and 18F-FTHA (KiFDG and KiFTHA, respectively) and the wash-in rate constant for 18F-FDHROL (K1FDHROL). 18F-FDHROL data were also used to quantify left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and end-diastolic volume (EDV). Blood samples were drawn to independently measure plasma concentrations of glucose, insulin, and free fatty acids (FFAs).
Results
KiFDG and KiFTHA were higher in SHRs than WKY rats (P < 3 × 10−8 and 0.005, respectively) independent of age. A decrease in KiFDG with age was evident when models were combined (P = 0.034). The SHR exhibited higher K1FDHROL (P < 5 × 10−6) than the control, with no age-dependent trends in either model (P = 0.058). Glucose plasma concentrations were lower in SHRs than controls (P < 6 × 10−12), with an age-dependent rise for WKY rats (P < 2 × 10−5). Insulin plasma concentrations were higher in SHRs than controls (P < 3 × 10−3), with an age-dependent decrease when models were combined (P = 0.046). FFA levels were similar between models (P = 0.374), but an increase with age was evident only in SHR (P < 7 × 10−6).
Conclusion
The SHR exhibited alterations in myocardial substrate use at 8 mo characterized by increased glucose and FA utilizations. At 20 mo, the SHR had LVH characterized by decreased LVEF and increased EDV, while simultaneously sustaining higher glucose and similar FA utilizations (compared with WKY rats), which indicates maladaptation of energy substrates in the failing heart. Elevated K1FDHROL in the SHR may reflect elevated oxygen consumption and decreased capillary density in the hypertrophied heart. From our findings, metabolic changes appear to precede mechanical changes of LVH progression in the SHR model.
doi:10.2967/jnumed.113.120105
PMCID: PMC4000452  PMID: 24092939
spontaneously hypertensive rat; myocardial substrate metabolism; myocardial perfusion; 18F-fluorodihydrorotenol; 18F-fluoro-6-thia-heptadecanoic acid
7.  Toll like receptor 4 contributes to blood pressure regulation and vascular contraction in spontaneously hypertensive rat 
Activation of Toll-like receptors (TLR) induces gene expression of proteins involved in the immune system response. TLR4 has been implicated in the development and progression of cardiovascular diseases. Innate and adaptive immunity contribute to hypertension-associated end-organ damage, although the mechanism by which this occurs remains unclear. In the present study we hypothesize that inhibition of TLR4 decreases blood pressure and improves vascular contractility in resistance arteries from spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). TLR4 protein expression in mesenteric resistance arteries was higher in 15 weeks-old SHR than in same age Wistar controls or in 5 weeks-old SHR. In order to decrease activation of TLR4, 15 weeks-old SHR and Wistar rats were treated with anti-TLR4 antibody or non-specific IgG control antibody for 15 days (1µg per day, i.p.). Treatment with anti-TLR4 decreased mean arterial pressure as well as TLR4 protein expression in mesenteric resistance arteries and interleukin-6 (IL-6) serum levels from SHR when compared to SHR treated with IgG. No changes in these parameters were found in Wistar treated rats. Mesenteric resistance arteries from anti-TLR4-treated SHR exhibited decreased maximal contractile response to noradrenaline compared to IgG-treated-SHR. Inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 (Cox) and Cox-2, enzymes related to inflammatory pathways, decreased noradrenaline responses only in mesenteric resistance arteries of SHR treated with IgG. Cox-2 expression and thromboxane A2 release were decreased in SHR treated with anti-TLR4 compared with IgG-treated-SHR. Our results suggest that TLR4 activation contributes to increased blood pressure, low grade inflammation and plays a role in the augmented vascular contractility displayed by SHR.
doi:10.1042/CS20110523
PMCID: PMC4004345  PMID: 22233532
toll like receptor 4; hypertension; mesenteric resistance arteries; cyclooxygenase; inflammation
8.  Blood pressure development of the spontaneously hypertensive rat after concurrent manipulations of dietary Ca2+ and Na+. Relation to intestinal Ca2+ fluxes. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1985;76(3):1147-1154.
The blood pressure of the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is influenced by the Ca2+ content of its diet. As the SHR's greater dependence on dietary calcium may reflect a defect in intestinal calcium absorption, we measured in vitro unidirectional Ca2+ flux (J) in the duodenum-jejunum (four segments each) of the SHR (n = 6) and the normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rat (WKY; n = 6) by a modified Ussing apparatus. Because of the known and postulated interactions between Ca2+ and Na+ in both intestinal and vascular tissue, we assessed in vivo the influence of a concurrent manipulation of Na+ intake (three levels: 0.25%, 0.45%, and 1.0%) on the blood pressure development of SHRs (n = 35) and WKYs (n = 35), between 6 and 20 wk of age, exposed to three levels of dietary calcium (0.1, 1.0, and 2%). Net calcium flux (Jnet) (mean +/- SEM) was significantly (P less than 0.01) lower in the SHR (-2.8 +/- 6.3 nmol/cm2 X h) than in the WKY (34.6 +/- 8.8 nmol/cm2 X h). The SHR's decreased Jnet resulted from a significantly (P less than 0.03) lower mucosa-to-serosa flux (Jm-s) in the SHR (41.0 +/- 5.6 nmol/cm2 X h) compared with the Jm-s of the WKY (70.1 +/- 9.1 nmol/cm2 X h). Serosa-to-mucosa flux for calcium did not differ between the SHR (43.8 +/- 6.6 nmol/cm2 X h) and the WKY (35.5 +/- 8.0 nmol/cm2 X h). The SHR's decreased (P less than 0.002) Jm-s was confirmed by additional measurements in SHRs and WKYs. Jm-s was 36.2 +/- 3.7 nmol/cm2 X h in the SHRs (n = 11) and 64.4 +/- 6.7 nmol/cm2 X h in the WKYs (n = 9). The provision of an increased dietary Ca2+ (2% by weight) and increased Na+ (1%) to the SHR prevented the emergence of hypertension (P less than 0.001) (mean +/- SEM systolic blood pressure at 20 wk of age; 135 +/- 5 mmHg for the 2% Ca2+, 1% Na+ SHR vs. 164 +/- 2 mmHg for the control diet SHR). Ca2+ (0.1%) and Na+ (0.25%) restriction accelerated the SHR's hypertension (192 +/- 2 mmHg) (P less than 0.001) and was associated with higher pressures in the WKY (146 +/- 4 mmHg in the restricted WKY vs. 134 +/- 4 mmHg in the control WKY). In a parallel group of 24 SHRs and 24 WKYs fed one of three diets (2% Ca2+/1% Na+; 1% Ca2+/0.45% Na+; or 0.1% Ca2+/0.25% Na+), the heart (P < 0.05) and kidney (P = 0.08) weight of the SHRs varied depending on the diet at 20 wk of age. Low Ca2+ and Na+ intake was associated with increased heart weight (1.6+/-0.9 g) compared with the normal diet for SHR (1.51+/-0.07 g). Increased Ca2+ and Na+ intake was associated with a significantly (P = 0.05) lower heart weight in the SHR (1.37+/-0.03 g) and in the WKY (1.35+/-0.06 g) compared with their normal diet controls. These findings show one mechanism for the SHR's depressor response to supplemental dietary Ca2+ and, in part, explain the sodium dependence of calcium's cardiovascular protective effect.
PMCID: PMC424009  PMID: 4044829
9.  PROTEINASE ACTIVITY AND RECEPTOR CLEAVAGE: MECHANISM FOR INSULIN RESISTANCE IN SPONTANEOUSLY HYPERTENSIVE RAT 
Hypertension  2008;52(2):415-423.
Arterial hypertension is associated with organ dysfunctions, but the mechanisms are uncertain. We hypothesize that enhanced proteolytic activity in the microcirculation of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) may be a pathophysiological mechanism causing cell membrane receptors cleavage and examine this for two different receptors. Immunohistochemistry of matrix-degrading metalloproteinases (MMP-9) protein shows enhanced levels in SHR microvessels, mast cells, and leukocytes compared to normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. In-vivo micro-zymography shows cleavage by MMP-1,9 in SHRs that co-localizes with MMP-9 and is blocked by metal chelation. SHR plasma also has enhanced protease activity. We demonstrate with an antibody against the extracellular domain that the insulin receptor-α density is reduced in SHR, in line with elevated blood glucose levels and glycated hemoglobin. There is also cleavage of the binding domain of the leukocyte integrin receptor CD18 in line with previously reported reduced leukocyte adhesion. Blockade of MMPs with broad acting inhibitor (doxycycline, 5.4mg/kg/day) reduces protease activity in plasma and microvessels, blocks the proteolytic cleavage of the insulin receptor, the reduced glucose transport, normalizes blood glucose levels and glycated hemoglobin levels, as well as reduces blood pressure and enhanced microvascular oxidative stress of SHRs. The results suggest that elevated MMP activity leads to proteolytic cleavage of membrane receptors in the SHR, e.g. cleavage of the insulin receptor-binding domain associated with insulin resistance.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.107.104356
PMCID: PMC2677556  PMID: 18606910
Microcirculation; matrix metalloproteinases; insulin receptor; integrin; receptor cleavage; oxygen free radical
10.  Upregulated TRPC3 and Downregulated TRPC1 Channel Expression during Hypertension is Associated with Increased Vascular Contractility in Rat 
Transient receptor potential (TRP) C1 and C3 (TRPC1 and TRPC3) are expressed in vascular smooth muscle cells and are thought to be involved in vascular contractility. In the present study, we determined the effect of systemic hypertension on TRPC1/TRPC3 channel expression and vascular contractility in rat carotid artery (CA). CA were studied from male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), Wistar-Kyoto (WKY), and Long Evans (LE) rats. TRPC1/3 expression was determined by RT-PCR and Western blot. TRP channel function was evaluated by whole-cell patch clamp, using UTP (60 μM) to stimulate TRPC1/3 channels. Contractions of endothelium-denuded CA segments to UTP (1–300 μM) and phenylephrine (Phe; 0.1 nM–10 μM) were measured in an isometric tension bath. TRPC1 and TRPC3 mRNA was present in CA of both WKY and SHR. Western blot demonstrated 3.1 ± 1.2 times greater TRPC3 expression and 0.5 ± 0.2 times TRPC1 in SHR versus WKY CA. Isolated CA showed potentiated contraction to UTP in the SHR versus WKY. Activation of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCC) in UTP-mediated constriction only occurred in SHR CA. Contraction to Phe was unaltered between WKY and SHR CA and involved equal significant VDCC activation in both groups. Patch clamp demonstrated that the UTP-stimulated current (Iutp) was greater in SHR compared to the normotensive WKY and LE rats with peak Iutp (at −110 mV) of −63 ± 24 pA compared to −25 ± 4 pA, respectively. We demonstrate that UTP-mediated but not Phe-mediated constrictions are potentiated in the CA during hypertension. Expression of TRPC1 is decreased whereas TRPC3 is increased in SHR CA. Interestingly, VDCC activation only contributes to UTP-mediated contraction of SHR CAs whereas it contributes substantially and equally in Phe-mediated contraction. We speculate that the alteration of TRPC channel expression in hypertension leads to greater smooth muscle depolarization, VDCC activation, and vascular contractility in the UTP (but not Phe) signaling pathway.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2011.00042
PMCID: PMC3143733  PMID: 21811471
calcium; carotid artery; hypertension; transient receptor potential channel; vascular smooth muscle
11.  Cell proliferation along vascular islands during microvascular network growth 
BMC Physiology  2012;12:7.
Background
Observations in our laboratory provide evidence of vascular islands, defined as disconnected endothelial cell segments, in the adult microcirculation. The objective of this study was to determine if vascular islands are involved in angiogenesis during microvascular network growth.
Results
Mesenteric tissues, which allow visualization of entire microvascular networks at a single cell level, were harvested from unstimulated adult male Wistar rats and Wistar rats 3 and 10 days post angiogenesis stimulation by mast cell degranulation with compound 48/80. Tissues were immunolabeled for PECAM and BRDU. Identification of vessel lumens via injection of FITC-dextran confirmed that endothelial cell segments were disconnected from nearby patent networks. Stimulated networks displayed increases in vascular area, length density, and capillary sprouting. On day 3, the percentage of islands with at least one BRDU-positive cell increased compared to the unstimulated level and was equal to the percentage of capillary sprouts with at least one BRDU-positive cell. At day 10, the number of vascular islands per vascular area dramatically decreased compared to unstimulated and day 3 levels.
Conclusions
These results show that vascular islands have the ability to proliferate and suggest that they are able to incorporate into the microcirculation during the initial stages of microvascular network growth.
doi:10.1186/1472-6793-12-7
PMCID: PMC3493275  PMID: 22720777
Angiogenesis; Microcirculation; Mesentery; Proliferation; Endothelial cell
12.  Effects of early life trauma are dependent on genetic predisposition: a rat study 
Background
Trauma experienced early in life increases the risk of developing a number of psychological and/or behavioural disorders. It is unclear, however, how genetic predisposition to a behavioural disorder, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), modifies the long-term effects of early life trauma. There is substantial evidence from family and twin studies for susceptibility to ADHD being inherited, implying a strong genetic component to the disorder. In the present study we used an inbred animal model of ADHD, the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), to investigate the long-term consequences of early life trauma on emotional behaviour in individuals predisposed to developing ADHD-like behaviour.
Methods
We applied a rodent model of early life trauma, maternal separation, to SHR and Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY), the normotensive control strain from which SHR were originally derived. The effects of maternal separation (removal of pups from dam for 3 h/day during the first 2 weeks of life) on anxiety-like behaviour (elevated-plus maze) and depressive-like behaviour (forced swim test) were assessed in prepubescent rats (postnatal day 28 and 31). Basal levels of plasma corticosterone were measured using radioimmunoassay.
Results
The effect of maternal separation on SHR and WKY differed in a number of behavioural measures. Similar to its reported effect in other rat strains, maternal separation increased the anxiety-like behaviour of WKY (decreased open arm entries) but not SHR. Maternal separation increased the activity of SHR in the novel environment of the elevated plus-maze, while it decreased that of WKY. Overall, SHR showed a more active response in the elevated plus-maze and forced swim test than WKY, regardless of treatment, and were also found to have higher basal plasma corticosterone compared to WKY. Maternal separation increased basal levels of plasma corticosterone in SHR females only, possibly through adaptive mechanisms involved in maintaining their active response in behavioural tests. Basal plasma corticosterone was found to correlate positively with an active response to a novel environment and inescapable stress across all rats.
Conclusion
SHR are resilient to the anxiogenic effects of maternal separation, and develop a non-anxious, active response to a novel environment following chronic mild stress during the early stages of development. Our findings highlight the importance of genetic predisposition in determining the outcome of early life adversity. SHR may provide a model of early life trauma leading to the development of hyperactivity rather than anxiety and depression. Basal levels of corticosterone correlate with the behavioural response to early life trauma, and may therefore provide a useful marker for susceptibility to a certain behavioural temperament.
doi:10.1186/1744-9081-7-11
PMCID: PMC3104368  PMID: 21548935
13.  Cross-fostering does not alter the neurochemistry or behavior of spontaneously hypertensive rats 
Background
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly heritable developmental disorder resulting from complex gene-gene and gene-environment interactions. The most widely used animal model, the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), displays the major symptoms of ADHD (deficits in attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity) and has a disturbance in the noradrenergic system when compared to control Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY). The aim of the present study was to determine whether the ADHD-like characteristics of SHR were purely genetically determined or dependent on the gene-environment interaction provided by the SHR dam.
Methods
SHR/NCrl (Charles River, USA), WKY/NCrl (Charles River, USA) and Sprague Dawley rats (SD/Hsd, Harlan, UK) were bred at the University of Cape Town. Rat pups were cross-fostered on postnatal day 2 (PND 2). Control rats remained with their birth mothers to serve as a reference for their particular strain phenotype. Behavior in the open-field and the elevated-plus maze was assessed between PND 29 and 33. Two days later, rats were decapitated and glutamate-stimulated release of [3H]norepinephrine was determined in prefrontal cortex and hippocampal slices.
Results
There was no significant effect of "strain of dam" but there was a significant effect of "pup strain" on all parameters investigated. SHR pups travelled a greater distance in the open field, spent a longer period of time in the inner zone and entered the inner zone of the open-field more frequently than SD or WKY. SD were more active than WKY in the open-field. WKY took longer to enter the inner zone than SHR or SD. In the elevated-plus maze, SHR spent less time in the closed arms, more time in the open arms and entered the open arms more frequently than SD or WKY. There was no difference between WKY and SD behavior in the elevated-plus maze. SHR released significantly more [3H]norepinephrine in response to glutamate than SD or WKY in both hippocampus and prefrontal cortex while SD prefrontal cortex released more [3H]norepinephrine than WKY. SHR were resilient, cross-fostering did not reduce their ADHD-like behavior or change their neurochemistry. Cross-fostering of SD pups onto SHR or WKY dams increased their exploratory behavior without altering their anxiety-like behavior.
Conclusion
The ADHD-like behavior of SHR and their neurochemistry is genetically determined and not dependent on nurturing by SHR dams. The similarity between WKY and SD supports the continued use of WKY as a control for SHR and suggests that SD may be a useful additional reference strain for SHR. The fact that SD behaved similarly to WKY in the elevated-plus maze argues against the use of WKY as a model for anxiety-like disorders.
doi:10.1186/1744-9081-5-24
PMCID: PMC2711096  PMID: 19549323
14.  Hypertension Is Associated with Marked Alterations in Sphingolipid Biology: A Potential Role for Ceramide 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21817.
Background
Hypertension is, amongst others, characterized by endothelial dysfunction and vascular remodeling. As sphingolipids have been implicated in both the regulation of vascular contractility and growth, we investigated whether sphingolipid biology is altered in hypertension and whether this is reflected in altered vascular function.
Methods and Findings
In isolated carotid arteries from spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats, shifting the ceramide/S1P ratio towards ceramide dominance by administration of a sphingosine kinase inhibitor (dimethylsphingosine) or exogenous application of sphingomyelinase, induced marked endothelium-dependent contractions in SHR vessels (DMS: 1.4±0.4 and SMase: 2.1±0.1 mN/mm; n = 10), that were virtually absent in WKY vessels (DMS: 0.0±0.0 and SMase: 0.6±0.1 mN/mm; n = 9, p<0.05). Imaging mass spectrometry and immunohistochemistry indicated that these contractions were most likely mediated by ceramide and dependent on iPLA2, cyclooxygenase-1 and thromboxane synthase. Expression levels of these enzymes were higher in SHR vessels. In concurrence, infusion of dimethylsphingosine caused a marked rise in blood pressure in anesthetized SHR (42±4%; n = 7), but not in WKY (−12±10%; n = 6). Lipidomics analysis by mass spectrometry, revealed elevated levels of ceramide in arterial tissue of SHR compared to WKY (691±42 vs. 419±27 pmol, n = 3–5 respectively, p<0.05). These pronounced alterations in SHR sphingolipid biology are also reflected in increased plasma ceramide levels (513±19 pmol WKY vs. 645±25 pmol SHR, n = 6–12, p<0.05). Interestingly, we observed similar increases in ceramide levels (correlating with hypertension grade) in plasma from humans with essential hypertension (185±8 pmol vs. 252±23 pmol; n = 18 normotensive vs. n = 19 hypertensive patients, p<0.05).
Conclusions
Hypertension is associated with marked alterations in vascular sphingolipid biology such as elevated ceramide levels and signaling, that contribute to increased vascular tone.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021817
PMCID: PMC3139577  PMID: 21818267
15.  Vascular islands during microvascular regression and regrowth in adult networks 
Objective: Angiogenesis is the growth of new vessels from pre-existing vessels and commonly associated with two modes: capillary sprouting and capillary splitting. Previous work by our laboratory suggests vascular island incorporation might be another endothelial cell dynamic involved in microvascular remodeling. Vascular islands are defined as endothelial cell segments disconnected from nearby networks, but their origin remains unclear. The objective of this study was to determine whether vascular islands associated with microvascular regression are involved in network regrowth.
Methods: Mesenteric tissues were harvested from adult male Wistar rats according to the experimental groups: unstimulated, post stimulation (10 and 70 days), and 70 days post stimulation + restimulation (3 and 10 days). Stimulation was induced by mast cell degranulation via intraperitoneal injections of compound 48/80. Tissues were immunolabeled for PECAM (endothelial cells), neuron-glial antigen 2 (NG2) (pericytes), collagen IV (basement membrane), and BrdU (proliferation).
Results: Percent vascular area per tissue area and length density increased by day 10 post stimulation compared to the unstimulated group. At day 70, vascular area and length density were then decreased, indicating vascular regression compared to the day 10 levels. The number of vascular islands at day 10 post stimulation was dramatically reduced compared to the unstimulated group. During regression at day 70, the number of islands increased. The disconnected endothelial cells were commonly bridged to surrounding networks by collagen IV labeling. NG2-positive pericytes were observed both along the islands and the collagen IV tracks. At 3 days post restimulation, vascular islands contained BrdU-positive cells. By day 10 post restimulation, when vascular area and length density were again increased, and the number of vascular islands was dramatically reduced.
Conclusion: The results suggest that vascular islands originating during microvascular regression are capable of undergoing proliferation and incorporation into nearby networks during network regrowth.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2013.00108
PMCID: PMC3655287  PMID: 23720632
angiogenesis; microcirculation; mesentery; proliferation; endothelial cell; disconnected segment; vascular island
16.  Maternal separation affects dopamine transporter function in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat: An in vivo electrochemical study 
Background
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder characterised by symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is a well-characterised model of this disorder and has been shown to exhibit dopamine dysregulation, one of the hypothesised causes of ADHD. Since stress experienced in the early stages of life can have long-lasting effects on behaviour, it was considered that early life stress may alter development of the dopaminergic system and thereby contribute to the behavioural characteristics of SHR. It was hypothesized that maternal separation would alter dopamine regulation by the transporter (DAT) in ways that distinguish SHR from control rat strains.
Methods
SHR and control Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats were subjected to maternal separation for 3 hours per day from postnatal day 2 to 14. Rats were tested for separation-induced anxiety-like behaviour followed by in vivo chronoamperometry to determine whether changes had occurred in striatal clearance of dopamine by DAT. The rate of disappearance of ejected dopamine was used as a measure of DAT function.
Results
Consistent with a model for ADHD, SHR were more active than WKY in the open field. SHR entered the inner zone more frequently and covered a significantly greater distance than WKY. Maternal separation increased the time that WKY spent in the closed arms and latency to enter the open arms of the elevated plus maze, consistent with other rat strains. Of note is that, maternal separation failed to produce anxiety-like behaviour in SHR. Analysis of the chronoamperometric data revealed that there was no difference in DAT function in the striatum of non-separated SHR and WKY. Maternal separation decreased the rate of dopamine clearance (k-1) in SHR striatum. Consistent with this observation, the dopamine clearance time (T100) was increased in SHR. These results suggest that the chronic mild stress of maternal separation impaired the function of striatal DAT in SHR.
Conclusions
The present findings suggest that maternal separation failed to alter the behaviour of SHR in the open field and elevated plus maze. However, maternal separation altered the dopaminergic system by decreasing surface expression of DAT and/or the affinity of DAT for dopamine, increasing the time to clear dopamine from the extracellular fluid in the striatum of SHR.
doi:10.1186/1744-9081-7-49
PMCID: PMC3285054  PMID: 22133315
17.  Relationships Between Lymphangiogenesis and Angiogenesis During Inflammation in Rat Mesentery Microvascular Networks 
Lymphatic Research and Biology  2012;10(4):198-207.
Abstract
Background
Lymphatic and blood microvascular systems play a coordinated role in the regulation of interstitial fluid balance and immune cell trafficking during inflammation. The objective of this study was to characterize the temporal and spatial relationships between lymphatic and blood vessel growth in the adult rat mesentery following an inflammatory stimulus.
Methods and Results
Mesenteric tissues were harvested from unstimulated adult male Wistar rats and at 3, 10, and 30 days post compound 48/80 stimulation. Tissues were immunolabeled for PECAM, LYVE-1, Prox1, podoplanin, CD11b, and class III β-tubulin. Vascular area, capillary blind end density, and vascular length density were quantified for each vessel system per time point. Blood vascular area increased compared to unstimulated tissues by day 10 and remained increased at day 30. Following the peak in blood capillary sprouting at day 3, blood vascular area and density increased at day 10. The number of blind-ended lymphatic vessels and lymphatic density did not significantly increase until day 10, and lymphatic vascular area was not increased compared to the unstimulated level until day 30. Lymphangiogenesis correlated with the upregulation of class III β-tubulin expression by endothelial cells along lymphatic blind-ended vessels and increased lymphatic/blood endothelial cell connections. In local tissue regions containing both blood and lymphatic vessels, the presence of lymphatics attenuated blood capillary sprouting.
Conclusions
Our work suggests that lymphangiogenesis lags angiogenesis during inflammation and motivates the need for future investigations aimed at understanding lymphatic/blood endothelial cell interactions. The results also indicate that lymphatic endothelial cells undergo phenotypic changes during lymphangiogenesis.
doi:10.1089/lrb.2012.0014
PMCID: PMC3525890  PMID: 23240958
18.  Progesterone reduces erectile dysfunction in sleep-deprived spontaneously hypertensive rats 
Background
Paradoxical sleep deprivation (PSD) associated with cocaine has been shown to enhance genital reflexes (penile erection-PE and ejaculation-EJ) in Wistar rats. Since hypertension predisposes males to erectile dysfunction, the aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of PSD on genital reflexes in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) compared to the Wistar strain. We also extended our study to examine how PSD affect steroid hormone concentrations involved in genital events in both experimental models.
Methods
The first experiment investigated the effects of PSD on genital reflexes of Wistar and SHR rats challenged by saline and cocaine (n = 10/group). To further examine the impact of the PSD on concentrations of sexual hormones, we performed a hormonal analysis of testosterone and progesterone in the Wistar and in SHR strains. Since after PSD progesterone concentrations decreased in the SHR compared to the Wistar PSD group we extended our study by investigating whether progesterone (25 mg/kg or 50 mg/kg) or testosterone (0.5 mg/kg or 1.0 mg/kg) administration during PSD would have a facilitator effect on the occurrence of genital reflexes in this hypertensive strain.
Results
A 4-day period of PSD induced PE in 50% of the Wistar rats against 10% for the SHR. These genital reflexes was potentiated by cocaine in Wistar rats whereas this scenario did not promote significant enhancement in PE and EJ in hypertensive rats, and the percentage of SHR displaying genital reflexes still figured significantly lower than that of the Wistar strain. As for hormone concentrations, both sleep-deprived Wistar and SHR showed lower testosterone concentrations than their respective controls. Sleep deprivation promoted an increase in concentrations of progesterone in Wistar rats, whereas no significant alterations were found after PSD in the SHR strain, which did not present enhancement in erectile responses. In order to explore the role of progesterone in the occurrence of genital reflexes, SHR were treated daily during the sleep deprivation period with progesterone; after the administration of this hormone and challenge with cocaine, we observed a significant increase in erectile events compared with the vehicle PSD SHR+cocaine group.
Conclusion
Our data showed that the low frequency of genital reflexes found in SHR sleep deprived rats may be attributed to the lower concentrations of progesterone in these rats, based on the observation that progesterone replacement increased genital reflexes in this strain.
doi:10.1186/1477-7827-5-7
PMCID: PMC1821029  PMID: 17331246
19.  Chronic Blockade of Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase in the Nucleus Tractus Solitarii Is Prohypertensive in the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat 
Hypertension  2008;53(1):97-103.
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) within brain stem neurons has been implicated in hypertension in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). Previously, we demonstrated elevated expression of PI3K subunits in rostral ventrolateral medulla and paraventricular nucleus of SHRs compared with Wistar-Kyoto rats. Here, we considered expression levels of PI3K in the nucleus tractus solitarii, a pivotal region in reflex regulation of arterial pressure, and determined its functional role for arterial pressure homeostasis in SHRs and Wistar-Kyoto rats. We found elevated mRNA levels of p110β and p110δ catalytic PI3K subunits in the nucleus tractus solitarii of adult (12 to 14 weeks old) SHRs relative to the age-matched Wistar-Kyoto rats (fold differences relative to β-actin: 1.7±0.2 versus 1.01±0.08 for p110β, n=6, P<0.05; 1.62±0.15 versus 1.02±0.1 for p110δ, n=6, P<0.05). After chronic blockade of PI3K signaling in the nucleus tractus solitarii by lentiviral-mediated expression of a mutant form of p85α, systolic pressure increased from 175±3 mm Hg to 191±6 mm Hg (P<0.01) in SHRs but not in Wistar-Kyoto rats. In addition, heart rate increased (from 331±6 to 342±6 bpm; P<0.05) and spontaneous baroreflex gain decreased (from 0.7±0.07 to 0.5±0.04 ms/mm Hg; P<0.001) in the SHRs. Thus, PI3K signaling in the nucleus tractus solitarii of SHR restrains arterial pressure in this animal model of neurogenic hypertension.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.108.122341
PMCID: PMC2735392  PMID: 19015400
hypertension; brain stem; NTS; PI3K; baroreflex control
20.  Electroacupuncture Delays Hypertension Development through Enhancing NO/NOS Activity in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats 
Using spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), this study investigated whether electroacupuncture (EA) could reduce early stage hypertension by examining nitric oxide (NO) levels in plasma and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) levels in the mesenteric resistance artery. EA was applied to the acupuncture point Governor Vessel 20 (GV20) or to a non-acupuncture point in the tail twice weekly for 3 weeks under anesthesia. In conscious SHR and normotensive Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats, blood pressure was determined the day after EA treatment by the tail-cuff method. We measured plasma NO concentration, and evaluated endothelial NO syntheses (eNOS) and neuronal NOS (nNOS) protein expression in the mesenteric artery. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were lower after 3 weeks of GV20 treatment than EA at non-acupuncture point and no treatment control in SHR. nNOS expression by EA was significantly different between both WKY and no treatment SHR control, and EA at GV20 in SHR. eNOS expression was significantly high in EA at GV 20 compared with no treatment control. In conclusion, EA could attenuate the blood pressure elevation of SHR, along with enhancing NO/NOS activity in the mesenteric artery in SHR.
doi:10.1093/ecam/nen064
PMCID: PMC3094701  PMID: 18955367
21.  Time course of the hemodynamic responses to aortic depressor nerve stimulation in conscious spontaneously hypertensive rats 
The time to reach the maximum response of arterial pressure, heart rate and vascular resistance (hindquarter and mesenteric) was measured in conscious male spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) and normotensive control rats (NCR; Wistar; 18-22 weeks) subjected to electrical stimulation of the aortic depressor nerve (ADN). The parameters of stimulation were 1 mA intensity and 2 ms pulse length applied for 5 s, using frequencies of 10, 30, and 90 Hz. The time to reach the hemodynamic responses at different frequencies of ADN stimulation was similar for SHR (N = 15) and NCR (N = 14); hypotension = NCR (4194 ± 336 to 3695 ± 463 ms) vs SHR (3475 ± 354 to 4494 ± 300 ms); bradycardia = NCR (1618 ± 152 to 1358 ± 185 ms) vs SHR (1911 ± 323 to 1852 ± 431 ms), and the fall in hindquarter vascular resistance = NCR (6054 ± 486 to 6550 ± 847 ms) vs SHR (4849 ± 918 to 4926 ± 646 ms); mesenteric = NCR (5574 ± 790 to 5752 ± 539 ms) vs SHR (5638 ± 648 to 6777 ± 624 ms). In addition, ADN stimulation produced baroreflex responses characterized by a faster cardiac effect followed by a vascular effect, which together contributed to the decrease in arterial pressure. Therefore, the results indicate that there is no alteration in the conduction of the electrical impulse after the site of baroreceptor mechanical transduction in the baroreflex pathway (central and/or efferent) in conscious SHR compared to NCR.
doi:10.1590/S0100-879X2012007500032
PMCID: PMC3854280  PMID: 22415118
Electrical stimulation; Arterial pressure; Aortic depressor nerve; Baroreflex; Spontaneously hypertensive rats; Vascular tone
22.  AT1 angiotensin II receptor and novel non-AT1, non-AT2 angiotensin II/III binding site in brainstem cardiovascular regulatory centers of the spontaneously hypertensive rat 
Brain research  2010;1359:98-106.
Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) have an activated brain angiotensin system that contributes to the elevation of blood pressure in this animal model. Physiological and pharmacological studies suggest that hyperactivation of brain AT1 angiotensin receptors is a major pathophysiological factor. Consistent with these observations, radioligand binding studies indicate widespread up-regulation of brain angiotensin receptors in SHR. One key brainstem site in which AT1 receptor stimulation appears to contribute to the elevated blood pressure in SHR is the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). However, no quantitative comparison of AT1 receptor binding in the RVLM has been made in SHR versus normotensive rats. A novel, non-AT1, non-AT2 binding site, specific for angiotensins II and III has recently been discovered in the brain. To determine if radioligand binding to either AT1 receptors or this novel angiotensin binding site are altered in the RVLM and other caudal brainstem regions of SHR, a quantitative densitometric autoradiographic comparsion of radioligand binding in SHR versus normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats was made. In both the RVLM and caudal ventrolateral medulla (CVLM) as well as dorsomedial medulla (DMM), there was increased expression of AT1 receptor binding in SHR (13, 9 and 23%, respectively). Conversely, expression of the novel, non-AT1, non-AT2, angiotensin II and III binding site was decreased in the RVLM and DMM of SHR (37 and 13%, respectively). This increased AT1 receptor binding in the RVLM may contribute to the hypertension of SHR. Reduced radioligand binding to the novel, non-AT1, non-AT2, angiotensin binding site in the RVLM of SHR may indicate a role for this binding site to reduce blood pressure via its interactions with angiotensins II and III.
doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2010.08.081
PMCID: PMC3176310  PMID: 20807518
Rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM); Caudal ventrolateral medulla (CVLM); Dorsomedial medulla (DMM); Novel, non-AT1, non-AT2 Angiotensin II and III binding site; Receptor autoradiography; 125I-sarcosine1, isoleucine8 angiotensin II
23.  Cardiovascular Responses Induced by Obstructive Apnea Are Enhanced in Hypertensive Rats Due to Enhanced Chemoreceptor Responsivity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86868.
Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), like patients with sleep apnea, have hypertension, increased sympathetic activity, and increased chemoreceptor drive. We investigated the role of carotid chemoreceptors in cardiovascular responses induced by obstructive apnea in awake SHR. A tracheal balloon and vascular cannulas were implanted, and a week later, apneas of 15 s each were induced. The effects of apnea were more pronounced in SHR than in control rats (Wistar Kyoto; WKY). Blood pressure increased by 57±3 mmHg during apnea in SHR and by 28±3 mmHg in WKY (p<0.05, n = 14/13). The respiratory effort increased by 53±6 mmHg in SHR and by 34±5 mmHg in WKY. The heart rate fell by 209±19 bpm in SHR and by 155±16 bpm in WKY. The carotid chemoreceptors were then inactivated by the ligation of the carotid body artery, and apneas were induced two days later. The inactivation of chemoreceptors reduced the responses to apnea and abolished the difference between SHR and controls. The apnea-induced hypertension was 11±4 mmHg in SHR and 8±4 mmHg in WKY. The respiratory effort was 15±2 mmHg in SHR and 15±2 mmHg in WKY. The heart rate fell 63±18 bpm in SHR and 52±14 bpm in WKY. Similarly, when the chemoreceptors were unloaded by the administration of 100% oxygen, the responses to apnea were reduced. In conclusion, arterial chemoreceptors contribute to the responses induced by apnea in both strains, but they are more important in SHR and account for the exaggerated responses of this strain to apnea.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086868
PMCID: PMC3900660  PMID: 24466272
24.  Effect of active immunization against angiotensin II type 1 (AT1) receptor on hypertension & arterial remodelling in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) 
Background & objectives:
Angiotensin II receptor type 1 (AT1) is known to be involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension. this study was undertaken to explore the effect of active immunization against AT1 receptor on blood pressure and small artery remodelling in spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR).
Methods:
Male SHR and Wistar rats aged two months were actively immunized with different peptides (ATR12185, ATR10014 and ATR12181) corresponding to particular sequences of rat AT1 receptor, while another SHR group was given losartan (10 mg/kg/day) orally once a day. Anti-AT1 receptor antibodies were detected by ELISA and blood pressure was measured. The effect of the antibodies on the artery and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) proliferation was studied.
Results:
All immunized animals produced antibodies against the particular peptides. The systolic blood pressure was decreased in the SHR immunized with peptide-ATR12181 compared with the control. However, no changes were observed in the SHR immunized with other two peptides. The Wistar rats immunized with the three peptides did not show any changes in blood pressure. The media/lumen area ratio of the mesenteric artery was reduced in SHR immunized with ATR12181 and similar to that of the SHR treated with losartan. The antibody from SHR immunized with ATR12181 had no effect on the proliferation of VSMC. But it could inhibit the proliferation caused by angiotensin II and its effect at the titre of 1:40 was similar to that of 1µmol/l losartan.
Interpretation & conclusions:
Our findings demonstrated that the antibody from SHR immunized with ATR12181 had the effect of reducing blood pressure and target organ protection similar to losartan. Active immunization against AT1 receptor may be a promising strategy in future for the treatment of hypertension.
PMCID: PMC4078502  PMID: 24927350
Antibody; AT1 receptor; proliferation; SHR; vascular smooth muscle cell
25.  Effects of doxazosin on blood flow and mRNA expression of nitric oxide synthase in the spontaneously hypertensive rat genitourinary tract 
Life sciences  2007;81(3):218-222.
Hypertension may impact pelvic arterial blood flow resulting in reduction of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) levels. Although doxazosin, an α1-adrenoceptor antagonist, has been shown to improve erectile dysfunction as well as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and hypertension, it is not clear whether these improvements using doxazosin are primarily due to direct actions on the prostate, urinary bladder and penis, possibly via inhibition of vascular α1-adrenoceptors, or other sites of actions. Therefore, we investigated effects of doxazosin to the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) on blood flow and NOS levels in the genitourinary tract. Four groups of rats were assessed: group 1, SHRs treated with doxazosin (30 mg/kg/day) for 4 weeks; group 2, SHRs treated with nifedipine (30 mg/kg/day) for 4 weeks; group 3, untreated SHRs; and group 4, untreated Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. Blood flow to the ventral prostate, dorsolateral prostate, urinary bladder and penis was determined using a fluorescent microsphere infusion technique. Expression levels of nNOS and eNOS mRNAs were quantified by real-time RT-PCR using SYBR Green I. Blood flow to the ventral prostate, dorsolateral prostate, urinary bladder and penis was significantly lower in untreated SHRs than WKY rats. Treatment with doxazosin increased blood flow to each tissue studied in SHRs. RT-PCR data indicated that untreated SHRs had lower mRNA expression levels of nNOS in the bladder and penis and eNOS in the penis than WKY rats and that administration of doxazosin to the SHR caused an increase in expression levels of these genes, i.e., up-regulation of nNOS in the bladder and penis and eNOS in the penis. However, nifedipine had no significant effects on blood flow and NOS levels in the SHR genitourinary tract. Our data demonstrate that doxazosin treatment causes differential alterations in blood flow and NOS levels in the SHR genitourinary tract. These findings may provide insight into the beneficial effects of α1-adrenoceptor antagonists, on prostate, bladder and penile function, when used to treat symptoms of BPH and elevated blood pressure.
doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2007.05.004
PMCID: PMC2077832  PMID: 17574276
Doxazosin; Blood flow; Nitric oxide synthase; Rat

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