Leptin acts in the forebrain to differentially influence baroreflex control of lumbar, renal, and splanchnic sympathetic nerve activity and heart rate.
Although leptin is known to increase sympathetic nerve activity (SNA), we tested the hypothesis that leptin also enhances baroreflex control of SNA and heart rate (HR). Using ?-chloralose anesthetized male rats, mean arterial pressure (MAP), HR, lumbar SNA (LSNA), splanchnic SNA (SSNA), and renal SNA (RSNA) were recorded before and for 2 hours after lateral cerebroventricular leptin or artificial cerebrospinal fluid administration. Baroreflex function was assessed using a 4-parameter sigmoidal fit of HR and SNA responses to slow ramp (3-5 minutes) changes in MAP, induced by intravenous infusion of nitroprusside and phenylephrine. Leptin (3 ?g) increased (P<0.05) basal LSNA, SSNA, RSNA, HR, and MAP, and the LSNA, SSNA, RSNA, and HR baroreflex maxima. Leptin also increased gain of baroreflex control of LSNA and RSNA, but not of SSNA or HR. The elevations in HR were eliminated by pretreatment with methscopalamine, to block parasympathetic nerve activity; however, after cardiac sympathetic blockade with atenolol, leptin still increased basal HR and MAP and the HR baroreflex maximum and minimum. Leptin (1.5 ?g) also increased LSNA and enhanced LSNA baroreflex gain and maximum, but did not alter MAP, HR, or the HR baroreflex. Lateral cerebroventricular artificial cerebrospinal fluid had no effects. Finally, to test whether leptin acts in the brain stem, leptin (3 ?g) was infused into the 4th ventricle; however, no significant changes were observed. In conclusion, leptin acts in the forebrain to differentially influence baroreflex control of LSNA, RSNA, SSNA, and HR, with the latter action mediated via suppression of parasympathetic nerve activity.