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Hypertension is associated with enhanced cardiac sympathetic transmission, although the exact mechanisms underlying this are still unknown. We hypothesized that defective function of the norepinephrine uptake transporter (NET) may contribute to the sympathetic phenotype of the spontaneously hypertensive rat, and that this may occur before the development of hypertension itself. The dynamic kinetics of NET were monitored temporally using a novel fluorescent assay of the transporter in cultured postganglionic sympathetic neurons from the cardiac stellate ganglion, the superior cervical ganglion, the celiac ganglia/superior mesenteric ganglia, and the renal sympathetic chain. All NET activity was blocked by desipramine. NET rate was significantly impaired in cardiac stellate sympathetic neurons from the prehypertensive spontaneously hypertensive rat compared with age-matched normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats. A similar response was seen in hypertensive spontaneously hypertensive rats stellate sympathetic neurons. However, no reduction in transporter rate was observed at either age in the other major noncardiac sympathetic ganglia. Depolarization of cardiac stellate neurons by electrical field stimulation further potentiated the difference in transporter rate observed between the hypertensive and normotensive rats at both developmental ages. In conclusion, dysregulation of the norepinephrine transporter in the hypertensive rat is ganglion-specific, where NET impairment in the stellate neurons may contribute to the increased cardiac norepinephrine spillover seen in hypertension.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





187 - 193


Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors, Animals, Cells, Cultured, Desipramine, Ganglia, Sympathetic, Hypertension, Male, Neurons, Norepinephrine Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins, Rats, Rats, Inbred SHR, Rats, Inbred WKY, Sympathetic Nervous System, Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase