The nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) is one of the morphologically and functionally defined centers that engage in the autonomic regulation of cardiovascular activity. Phenotypically-characterized NTS neurons have been implicated in the differential regulation of blood pressure (BP). Here, we investigated whether phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT)-expressing NTS (NTS) neurons contribute to the control of BP. We demonstrate that photostimulation of NTS neurons has variable effects on BP. A depressor response was produced during optogenetic stimulation of NTS neurons projecting to the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, lateral parabrachial nucleus, and caudal ventrolateral medulla. Conversely, photostimulation of NTS neurons projecting to the rostral ventrolateral medulla produced a robust pressor response and bradycardia. In addition, genetic ablation of both NTS neurons and those projecting to the rostral ventrolateral medulla impaired the arterial baroreflex. Overall, we revealed the neuronal phenotype- and circuit-specific mechanisms underlying the contribution of NTS neurons to the regulation of BP.
© 2022. The Author(s).