Microinjection of muscimol into the periaqueductal gray suppresses cardiovascular and neuroendocrine response to air jet stress in conscious rats

Rodrigo C.A. De Menezes, Dmitry V. Zaretsky, Sumit Sarkar, Marco A.P. Fontes, Joseph A. DiMicco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Microinjection of the neuronal inhibitor muscimol into the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) suppresses increases in heart rate (HR), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and circulating levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) evoked in air jet stress in conscious rats. Similar injection of muscimol into the caudal region of the lateral/ dorsolateral periaqueductal gray (l/dlPAG) reduces autonomic responses evoked from the DMH, leading to the suggestion that neurons in the l/dlPAG may represent a descending relay for DMH-induced increases in HR and MAP. Here, we examined the role of neuronal activity in the caudal l/dlPAG on the increases in MAP, HR, and plasma ACTH seen in air jet stress in rats. Microinjection of muscimol into the caudal l/dlPAG reduced stress-induced increases in HR and MAP, while identical injections into sites just dorsal or into the rostral l/dlPAG had no effect. Microinjection of a combination of the glutamate receptor antagonists 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoate (AP5) and 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo[f]quinoxaline-2,3-dione (NBQX) into the caudal l/dlPAG decreased stress-induced increases in HR alone only at the end of the 20-min stress period but significantly accelerated return to baseline. Surprisingly, microinjection of muscimol into the caudal l/dlPAG also reduced the stress-induced increase in plasma ACTH by 51%. Compared with unstressed control rats, rats exposed to air jet stress exhibited ∼3 times the number of Fos-positive neurons in the l/dlPAG. These findings suggest that neurons in the l/dlPAG are activated in air jet stress and that this activity contributes to increases in HR, MAP, and plasma ACTH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R881-R890
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008



  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone
  • Blood pressure
  • c-fos
  • Glutamate receptors
  • Heart rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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