The sensory innervation of the lung is well known to be innervated by nerve fibers of both vagal and sympathetic origin. Although the vagal afferent innervation of the lung has been well characterized, less is known about physiological effects mediated by spinal sympathetic afferent fibers. We hypothesized that activation of sympathetic spinal afferent nerve fibers of the lung would result in an excitatory pressor reflex, similar to that previously characterized in the heart. In this study, we evaluated changes in renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and hemodynamics in response to activation of TRPV1-sensitive pulmonary spinal sensory fibers by agonist application to the visceral pleura of the lung and by administration into the primary bronchus in anesthetized, bilaterally vagotomized, adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Application of bradykinin (BK) to the visceral pleura of the lung produced an increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP), heart rate (HR), and RSNA. This response was significantly greater when BK was applied to the ventral surface of the left lung compared to the dorsal surface. Conversely, topical application of capsaicin (Cap) onto the visceral pleura of the lung, produced a biphasic reflex change in MAP, coupled with increases in HR and RSNA which was very similar to the hemodynamic response to epicardial application of Cap. This reflex was also evoked in animals with intact pulmonary vagal innervation and when BK was applied to the distal airways of the lung via the left primary bronchus. In order to further confirm the origin of this reflex, epidural application of a selective afferent neurotoxin (resiniferatoxin, RTX) was used to chronically ablate thoracic TRPV1-expressing afferent soma at the level of T1-T4 dorsal root ganglia pleura. This treatment abolished all sympatho-excitatory responses to both cardiac and pulmonary application of BK and Cap in vagotomized rats 9-10 weeks post-RTX. These data suggest the presence of an excitatory pulmonary chemosensitive sympathetic afferent reflex. This finding may have important clinical implications in pulmonary conditions inducing sensory nerve activation such as pulmonary inflammation and inhalation of chemical stimuli.
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Shanks, Julia A.; Xia, Zhiqiu; Lisco, Steven J.; Rozanski, George J.; Schultz, Harold D.; Zucker, Irving H.; and Wang, Han-Jun, "Sympatho-Excitatory Response to Pulmonary Chemosensitive Spinal Afferent Activation in Anesthetized, Vagotomized Rats" (2018). Journal Articles: Cellular & Integrative Physiology. 29.