The carotid body detects circulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha to activate a sympathetic anti-inflammatory reflex

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2022-05-01

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Recent evidence has suggested that the carotid bodies might act as immunological sensors, detecting pro-inflammatory mediators and signalling to the central nervous system, which, in turn, orchestrates autonomic responses. Here, we confirmed that the TNF-α receptor type I is expressed in the carotid bodies of rats. The systemic administration of TNF-α increased carotid body afferent discharge and activated glutamatergic neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) that project to the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), where many pre-sympathetic neurons reside. The activation of these neurons was accompanied by an increase in splanchnic sympathetic nerve activity. Carotid body ablation blunted the TNF-α-induced activation of RVLM-projecting NTS neurons and the increase in splanchnic sympathetic nerve activity. Finally, plasma and spleen levels of cytokines after TNF-α administration were higher in rats subjected to either carotid body ablation or splanchnic sympathetic denervation. Collectively, our findings indicate that the carotid body detects circulating TNF-α to activate a counteracting sympathetic anti-inflammatory mechanism.

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Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, v. 102, p. 370-386.

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