The central nervous system plays an important role in the regulation of blood pressure via the sympathetic nervous system. Abnormal regulation of the sympathetic nerve activity is involved in the pathophysiology of hypertension. In particular, the brain stem, including the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) and the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), is a key site that controls and maintains blood pressure via the sympathetic nervous system. Nitric oxide (NO) is a unique molecule that influences sympathetic nerve activity. Rho-kinase is a downstream effector of the small GTPase, Rho, and is implicated in various cellular functions. We developed a technique to transfer adenovirus vectors encoding endothelial nitric oxide synthase and dominant-negative Rho-kinase into the NTS or the RVLM of rats in vivo. We applied this technique to hypertensive rats to explore the physiological significance of NO and Rho-kinase.
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