Increased expression of M2 muscarinic receptor mRNA and binding sites in the rostral ventrolateral medulla of spontaneously hypertensive rats

Mahanandeeshwar Gattu, Jian Wei, James R. Pauly, Shanna Urbanawiz, Jerry J. Buccafusco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A significant body of evidence suggests that the development and maintenance of elevated blood pressure in the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), a genetic model for essential hypertension, is due at least partly to a central hyper-cholinergic state. For example, this strain responds with an exaggerated pressor response to pharmacological stimulation of central muscarinic receptors in certain brain regions compared to normotensive Wistar Kyoto rats (WKY). At least part of the enhanced response to central muscarinic receptor stimulation in SHR is due to the altered expression of post-synaptic receptors. In the present study, the reverse transcriptase- polymerase chain reaction and autoradiographic techniques were used to estimate the relative levels of mRNA and density of receptor binding sites for the five subtypes of muscarinic receptors within the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVL) of SHR and WKY. Adult (12-week-old) SHR exhibited an increase in the levels of both M2 muscarinic mRNA, and M2 receptor binding sites in RVL compared to age-matched normotensive WKY. Similarly, 4-week-old pre-hypertensive SHR exhibited increased levels of M2 mRNA in whole medulla oblongata, and an increase in the number of binding sites for M2 receptors in the RVL. Since the RVL is known to integrate tonic cholinergic sympathoexcitatory input, these results suggest that the increased expression of M2 muscarinic receptors in this region represents one neurochemical correlate for the maintenance of excessive central efferent sympathetic nervous activity in the SHR. Since the neurochemical change precedes the development of hypertension, the altered medullary M2 receptor expression may play a role as an initiating or predisposing factor for the development of hypertension in SHR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 9 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Office of Research and Development, Medical Research Service, Department of Veterans Affairs. The authors wish to thank Ms. Patricia Ryan for her excellent secretarial assistance.


  • Autoradiography
  • Blood pressure
  • M2 muscarinic receptor
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Rostral ventrolateral medulla
  • Spontaneously hypertensive rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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