Opioid innervation of the caudal ventrolateral medulla is not critical for the expression of the aortic depressor nerve response in the rabbit

Guy Drolet, David A. Morilak, John Chalmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the influence of endogenous opioids in the caudal ventrolateral medulla (CVLM) on the expression of the baroreflex response induced by the electrical stimulation (50 Hz, 0.2 ms, 11 V, 10 s) of the aortic depressor nerve. We used microinjection of selective opioid antagonists into the functionally identified depressor area of the CVLM in chloralose-anesthetized rabbits. Injection of vehicles or the μ-antagonist β-funaltrexamine (0.3 nmol) into the CVLM had no effects, while naloxone (20 nmol), ICI 174,864 (δ-antagonist, 0.3 nmol) or nor-binaltorphimine (κ-antagonist, 1 nmol) abolished the depressor response, but themselves all elicited a tonic depressor effect as well. In contrast, intravenous naloxone (5 mg/kg) induced a small but significant increase in arterial pressure and did not alter the depressor response. Hypotensive hemorrhage induced a decrease in arterial pressure similar to that seen with local injection of naloxone into the CVLM, but did not change the reflex, suggesting that the reflex abolition was not due to the decrease in basal arterial pressure per se. CVLM injection of glutamate (10 nmol) or the GABA-antagonist bicuculline (0.1 nmol), non-opioid agents which activate CVLM and induce a tonic depressor effect, also abolished the depressor response suggesting that the reflex abolition was secondary to general activation or disinhibition of the CVLM. Thus, although the CVLM is tonically inhibited by endogenous opioid inputs acting via δ- and κ-receptors, our data provide no evidence that opioid neurons which provide input to this region constitute a specific and integral component in mediating the aortic depressor response. However, the more general role that opioids play in tonically influencing the resting level of activity in the CVLM, is nevertheless very important in enabling the normal expression of this baroreflex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Aortic depressor nerve
  • Baroreflex
  • Cardiovascular regulation
  • Endogenous opioid
  • Opioid receptor
  • Ventrolateral medulla


Dive into the research topics of 'Opioid innervation of the caudal ventrolateral medulla is not critical for the expression of the aortic depressor nerve response in the rabbit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this