Evidence for a bulbospinal serotonergic pressor pathway in the rat brain

P. R.C. Howe, D. M. Kuhn, J. B. Minson, B. H. Stead, J. P. Chalmers

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    The cardiovascular role of spinal serotonin (5-HT) neurones descending from 5-HT cells near the ventrolateral surface of the medulla oblongata was investigated by stimulating these cells in normal animals and in animals with selective chemical ablation of 5-HT nerves. These laterally placed 5-HT nerves fall within the B1 and B3 groups in the medulla and were identified using immunohistochemistry. 5,7-Dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT) was injected into the lateral cerebral ventricle (i.c.v.) to produce a generalized destruction of central 5-HT pathways, with preliminary intraperitoneal administration of desipramine to prevent depletion of noradrenaline stores. In other experiments, 5,7-DHT was injected directly into the cervical spinal cord, after preliminary treatment with desipramine, to produce selective destruction of spinal 5-HT nerves, confirmed both biochemically and immunohistochemically. Electrical stimulation near the lateral 5-HT cells in the B1 and B3 cell groups elicited pressor responses in control (vehicle-injected) rats; the increase in mean arterial pressure was proportional to the intensity and to the frequency of stimulation. Microinjections of kainic acid or l-glutamate at the same sites also produced an increase in mean arterial pressure. Selective destruction of 5-HT nerves, whether produced by i.c.v. or intra-spinal administration of 5,7-DHT, reduced the magnitude of the pressor response to electrical stimulation by over 50%. These experiments suggest the activity of 5-HT nerve cells adjacent to the ventrolateral surface of the medulla oblongata and projecting to the intermediolateral cell column serves to elevate arterial pressure and maintain vasomotor tone.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-36
    Number of pages8
    JournalBrain Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 1983


    • 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine
    • blood pressure
    • electrical stimulation
    • immunohistochemistry
    • spinal serotonin nerves


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