In a variety of animal models, baroreceptor resetting during chronic hypertension has been correlated to vessel wall hypertrophy and decreased distensibility. In one possible mechanism of chronic resetting, termed the splinting hypothesis here, it has been suggested that a stiffer vessel wall might increase the minimum pressure required for activation of these mechanoreceptors (pressure threshold) and decrease suprathreshold pressure sensitivity. Lower vessel distensibility would alter baroreceptor function by preventing equivalent pressures from producing equivalent vessel distensions and, thus, receptor distortions. Recent studies have also suggested that the pressure threshold is strongly influenced by the most recent (minutes) history of blood pressure exposure during a process termed rapid resetting. Hypertension and advanced aging are associated with distensibility changes. The present study examines pressure and equivalent mechanical response characteristics of aortic baroreceptors from aged normotensive Wistar-Kyoto and spontaneously hypertensive rats. An in vitro aortic arch-aortic nerve preparation was used to assess the discharge properties from a number of baroreceptors and the pressure-diameter relationship of each aorta. Both control and rapid resetting protocols were used to study the baroreceptor characteristics. Aged Wistar-Kyoto rats were normotensive and averaged 115 weeks of age. Aged spontaneously hypertensive rats had systolic tail pressures of 187 mm Hg and averaged 76 weeks of age. Although aortic distensibility of aged WKYs was much lower than previously found in younger animals, the pressure threshold was unchanged. Aged spontaneously hypertensive rat receptors were chronically reset in proportion to their blood pressure. Decreased distensibility did not alter the rapid resetting process. It is concluded that baroreceptor pressure sensitivity is more closely related to aortic distensibility under several conditions altering vessel stiffness, whereas, the pressure threshold may be regulated additionally by mechanisms independent of distensibility. The results are inconsistent with the splinting hypothesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine