Arachidonic acid and its metabolites produced via cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase pathways have been reported to contribute to the cardiovascular reflexes evoked by stimulating thin fibre muscle afferents during muscle contraction. 20-Hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE), a primarily metabolized product of arachidonic acid by cytochrome P450 enzymes, can be accumulated in contracting muscles. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the role of 20-HETE in modulating the reflex sympathetic responses to activation of chemically and mechanically sensitive muscle afferents. The renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and cardiovascular responses were examined after injections of 20-HETE into the arterial blood supply of the hindlimb muscles of decerebrated rats. This induced a dose-dependent increases in RSNA and mean arterial pressure (MAP). We also tested the hypothesis that 20-HETE would sensitize muscle afferents and, thereby, augment the RSNA and blood pressure response to muscle stretch. The results show that arterial infusion of 20-HETE significantly enhanced the RSNA and MAP responses to muscle stretch. In contrast, N-hydroxy-N′-(4-butyl-2-methylphenyl) formamidine, a potent inhibitor of 20-HETE production, attenuated the reflex muscle responses. Furthermore, the sensitizing effect of 20-HETE on the muscle reflex was significantly attenuated after blocking COX activity with indomethacin. Our data suggest that 20-HETE plays a role in modulating muscle afferent-mediated sympathetic responses, probably through engagement of a COX-dependent mechanism.
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