Role for NGF in augmented sympathetic nerve response to activation of mechanically and metabolically sensitive muscle afferents in rats with femoral artery occlusion

Jian Lu, Jihong Xing, Jianhua Li

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21 Scopus citations


Arterial blood pressure and heart rate responses to static contraction of the hindlimb muscles are greater in rats whose femoral arteries were previously ligated than in control rats. Also, the prior findings demonstrate that nerve growth factor (NGF) is increased in sensory neurons-dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons of occluded rats. However, the role for endogenous NGF in engagement of the augmented sympathetic and pressor responses to stimulation of mechanically and/or metabolically sensitive muscle afferent nerves during static contraction after femoral artery ligation has not been specifically determined. In the present study, both afferent nerves and either of them were activated by muscle contraction, passive tendon stretch, and arterial injection of lactic acid into the hindlimb muscles. Data showed that femoral occlusion-augmented blood pressure response to contraction was significantly attenuated by a prior administration of the NGF antibody (NGF-Ab) into the hindlimb muscles. The effects of NGF neutralization were not seen when the sympathetic nerve and pressor responses were evoked by stimulation of mechanically sensitive muscle afferent nerves with tendon stretch in occluded rats. In addition, chemically sensitive muscle afferent nerves were stimulated by lactic acid injected into arterial blood supply of the hindlimb muscles after the prior NGF-Ab, demonstrating that the reflex muscle responses to lactic acid were significantly attenuated. The results of this study further showed that NGF-Ab attenuated an increase in acid-sensing ion channel subtype 3 (ASIC3) of DRG in occluded rats. Moreover, immunohistochemistry was employed to examine the number of C-fiber and A-fiber DRG neurons. The data showed that distribution of DRG neurons with different thin fiber phenotypes was not notably altered when NGF was infused into the hindlimb muscles. However, NGF increased expression of ASIC3 in DRG neurons with C-fiber but not A-fiber. Overal l, these data suggest that 1) NGF is amplified in sensory nerves of occluded rats and contributes to augmented reflex sympathetic and blood pressure responses evoked by stimulation of chemically, but not mechanically, sensitive muscle afferent nerves and 2) NGF likely plays a role in modulating the muscle metaboreflex via enhancement of ASIC3 expression in C-fiber of DRG neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1311-1322
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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