Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists attenuate exaggerated exercise pressor reflex responses in hypertensive rats

Ryan M. Downey, Masaki Mizuno, Jere H. Mitchell, Wanpen Vongpatanasin, Scott A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Exaggerated heart rate (HR) and blood pressure responses to exercise in hypertension are mediated, in part, by overactivity of the exercise pressor reflex (EPR). The mechanisms underlying this EPR dysfunction have not been fully elucidated. Previous studies have shown that stimulation of mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs) with exogenous administration of aldosterone in normal, healthy rats reproduces the EPR overactivity characteristic of hypertensive animals. Conversely, the purpose of this study was to examine whether antagonizing MR with spironolactone (SPIR) or eplerenone (EPL) in decerebrated hypertensive rats ameliorates abnormal EPR function. Changes in mean arterial pressure (MAP) and HR induced by EPR or muscle mechanoreflex (a component of EPR) activation were assessed in normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) fed normal chow (NC) or a customized diet containing either SPIR or EPL for 3 wk. SHRs treated with SPIR or EPL had significantly attenuated MAP responses to EPR (NC: 45 ± 7 mmHg, SPIR: 26 ± 4 mmHg, and EPL: 24 ± 5 mmHg, P = 0.02) and mechanoreflex (NC: 34 ± 9 mmHg, SPIR: 17 ± 3 mmHg, and EPL: 15 ± 3 mmHg, P = 0.03) activation. SHRs treated with SPIR or EPL also showed significantly attenuated HR responses to EPR (NC: 17 ± 3 beats/min, SPIR: 9 ± 1 beats/min, and EPL: 9 ± 2 beats/min, P = 0.01) and mechanoreflex (NC: 15 ± 3 beats/ min, SPIR: 6 ± 1 beats/min, and EPL: 7 ± 1 beats/min, P = 0.01) activation. Wistar-Kyoto rats treated with SPIR did not demonstrate significant differences in MAP or HR responses to EPR or mechanoreflex activation. The data suggest that antagonizing MRs may be an effective strategy for the treatment of EPR overactivity in hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)788-794
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 11 2017


  • Aldosterone
  • Blood pressure
  • Eplerenone
  • Heart rate
  • Mechanoreflex
  • Muscle reflexes
  • Spironolactone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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