Since central activation of A1 adenosine receptors (A1ARs) plays an important role in the induction of the hypothermic and hypometabolic torpid state in hibernating mammals, we investigated the potential for the A1AR agonist N6-cyclohexyladenosine to induce a hypothermic, torpor-like state in the (nonhibernating) rat. Core and brown adipose tissue temperatures, EEG, heart rate, and arterial pressure were recorded in free-behaving rats, and c-fos expression in the brain was analyzed, following central administration of N6-cyclohexyladenosine. Additionally, we recorded the sympathetic nerve activity to brown adipose tissue; expiratory CO2 and skin, core, and brown adipose tissue temperatures; and shivering EMGs in anesthetized rats following central and localized, nucleus of the solitary tract, administration of N6-cyclohexyladenosine. In rats exposed to a cool (15°C) ambient temperature, central A1AR stimulation produced a torpor-like state similar to that in hibernating species and characterized by a marked fall in body temperature due to an inhibition of brown adipose tissue and shivering thermogenesis that is mediated by neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract. During the induced hypothermia, EEG amplitude and heart rate were markedly reduced. Skipped heartbeats and transient bradycardias occurring during the hypothermia were vagally mediated since they were eliminated by systemic muscarinic receptor blockade. These findings demonstrate that a deeply hypothermic, torpor-like state can be pharmacologically induced in a nonhibernating mammal and that recovery of normothermic homeostasis ensues upon rewarming. These results support the potential for central activation of A1ARs to be used in the induction of a hypothermic, therapeutically beneficial state in humans.
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