The Role of the MnPO in Body Fluid Balance and Blood Pressure Regulation




Marciante, Alexandria B.


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The median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) is situated on the anteroventral wall of the third ventricle (AV3V) between two circumventricular organs (CVOs) that lack a functional blood-brain barrier, the subfornical organ (SFO) and organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis (OVLT). The SFO and OVLT project to the MnPO and together these regions regulate neuroendocrine and autonomic function, arousal, and fluid balance. Early studies demonstrated that the MnPO and other regions in the AV3V contribute to regulating thirst associated with body fluid homeostasis, as well as several forms of neurogenic hypertension. The MnPO is key in relaying signals from the SFO and OVLT to downstream regions that control fluid intake and autonomic function; however, pathway-specific and stimulus-dependent mechanisms are not fully understood. These studies investigate how the MnPO differentially responds to models of physiological challenges that induce thirst, as well as pathway-specific mechanisms of blood pressure in a known model of hypertension. To study the role of the MnPO in thirst, rats were tested with models of cellular (hyperosmolality) and extracellular (angiotensin II, ANG II) dehydration associated with hypovolemia. Previous studies have shown that different populations of MnPO neurons are osmo- or ANG II-sensitive; however, both stimuli lead to a converging behavioral outcome: water consumption. This led to the hypothesis that osmotic challenges and ANG II activate MnPO neurons that project to different regions in a stimulus-dependent manner. Results show that the MnPO signals to specific thirst-driving regions of the brain and the activation of these regions is dependent on the stimulus. To study the role of the MnPO in regulating blood pressure, an experimental model of chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is used to successfully mimic the oxygen deprivation associated with apneic breathing patterns patients with mild to moderate forms of OSA experience. Both patients with OSA and rodents in the CIH model develop diurnal hypertension, which is a sustained increase in blood pressure that persists into the waking hours. Hypertension involves multiple organ systems, including the central nervous system, and can be a heterogenous disease state that manifests from a number of factors, including CIH, ANG II from renin-angiotensin system (RAS), and changes in body fluid osmolality. This led to the hypothesis that pathway-specific inhibition of MnPO neurons that project to pre-autonomic neurons in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus would block persistent hypertension. Results indicate that lesioning PVN-projecting MnPO neurons can block CIH-induced hypertension, resulting in decreases in oxidative stress and improved cardiovascular health. These findings provide new information about how the MnPO differentially regulates behavioral and physiological outcomes in a stimulus-dependent manner. These outcomes also have broad clinical implications relating to the role of the central nervous system in disease states affecting body fluid balance and blood pressure regulation.