Dahl-Salt Sensitive (DS) rats rapidly develop high blood pressure when exposed to a high-salt diet. Recent studies suggest that DS rats have poorly functioning baroreceptor afferents and baroreflexes even when salt intake is restricted. This study examines baroreceptor pressure- and mechano-transduction in DS, Dahl Resistant (DR), and Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats during low- and high-salt conditions. Single unit, regularly discharging baroreceptors were studied using an in vitro aortic arch-aortic nerve preparation. Pressure thresholds and suprathreshold pressure sensitivities were determined from responses to slow ramps of pressure. Pressure-diameter relations measured in each rat were used to transform pressure threshold and pressure sensitivity values to their mechanical equivalents in terms of aortic wall strain. A total of 407 unit baroreceptors were studied from 49 rats. Tail systolic blood pressures were significantly higher only in DS during high salt. Pressure threshold was similar for all groups on low salt. Exposure to a high-salt diet increased the mean pressure threshold for all three groups. Pressure threshold for high-salt diet was highest in DS and lowest in DR. Pressure sensitivities were lowest in DS and highest in DR on low salt. High salt had no significant effect on pressure sensitivity. The differences in threshold apparent when expressed in terms of pressure were eliminated by conversion to their mechanical equivalents (strain threshold and strain sensitivity). The results suggest that baroreceptors in the two Dahl rat strains represent two extremes from normal baroreceptor function. DS tend to be less pressure responsive than normal (SD), and DR tend to be somewhat more responsive to pressure. High salt altered baroreceptor properties in all three rat strains. The elevation of pressure threshold in DR and SD occurred without increases in systolic blood pressure suggesting that high dietary salt can alter baroreceptor function independent of blood pressure effects. The mechanism of this effect appears to be related to the local mechanical properties of the vessel wall or the way in which the receptor is coupled to the vessel wall.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine