The role of nitric oxide (NO) in the brain in the control of blood pressure and the sympathetic nervous system is debated. This study examined the effect of overexpression of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) in the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) on blood pressure in conscious rats. Adenovirus vectors encoding either eNOS (AdeNOS) or β-galactosidase were transfected into the NTS in vivo. In the AdeNOS-treated rats, the local expression of eNOS in the NTS was confirmed by immunohistochemical staining and Western blot analysis for the eNOS protein and by increased production of nitrite/nitrate in the NTS measured by in vivo microdialysis. Blood pressure and heart rate, monitored by the use of a radiotelemetry system in a conscious state, were significantly decreased in the AdeNOS-treated group at day 5 to day 10 after the gene transfer. Urinary norepinephrine excretion also was decreased at day 7 after the gene transfer in the AdeNOS-treated group. Our results indicate that overexpression of eNOS in the NTS decreases blood pressure, heart rate, and sympathetic nerve activity in conscious rats.
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