Hypothalamic PVN contributes to acute intermittent hypoxia-induced sympathetic but not phrenic long-term facilitation

Megan B. Blackburn, Mary Ann Andrade, Glenn M. Toney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH) repetitively activates the arterial chemoreflex and triggers a progressive increase of sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) and phrenic nerve activity (PNA) referred to as sympathetic and phrenic long-term facilitation (S-LTF and P-LTF), respectively. Neurons of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) participate in the arterial chemoreflex, but their contribution to AIH-induced LTF is unknown. To determine this, anesthetized rats were vagotomized and exposed to 10 cycles of AIH, each consisting of ventilation for 3 min with 100% O2 followed by 3 min with 15% O2. Before AIH, rats received bilateral PVN injections of artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF; vehicle) or the GABA-A receptor agonist muscimol (100 pmol in 50 nl) to inhibit neuronal activity. Thirty minutes after completing the AIH protocol, during which rats were continuously ventilated with 100% O2, S-LTF and P-LTF were quantified from recordings of integrated splanchnic SNA and PNA, respectively. PVN muscimol attenuated increases of SNA during hypoxic episodes occurring in later cycles (6 -10) of AIH (P < 0.03) and attenuated post-AIH S-LTF (P < 0.001). Muscimol, however, did not consistently affect peak PNA responses during hypoxic episodes and did not alter AIH-induced P-LTF. These findings indicate that PVN neuronal activity contributes to sympathetic responses during AIH and to subsequent generation of S-LTF. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Neural circuits mediating acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH)-induced sympathetic and phrenic long-term facilitation (LTF) have not been fully elucidated. We found that paraventricular nucleus (PVN) inhibition attenuated sympathetic activation during episodes of AIH and reduced post-AIH sympathetic LTF. Neither phrenic burst patterning nor the magnitude of AIH-induced phrenic LTF was affected. Findings indicate that PVN neurons contribute to AIH-induced sympathetic LTF. Defining mechanisms of sympathetic LTF could improve strategies to reduce sympathetic activity in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1243
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Arterial blood pressure
  • Phrenic nerve activity
  • Respiratory-sympathetic coupling
  • Sympathetic nerve activity
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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