The arcuate nucleus (ArcN) is an integrative hub for the regulation of energy balance, reproduction, and arterial pressure (AP), all of which are influenced by Angiotensin II (AngII); however, the cellular mechanisms and downstream neurocircuitry are unclear. Here we show that ArcN AngII increases AP in female rats via two phases, both of which are mediated via activation of AngII type 1 receptors (AT1aR): initial vasopressin-induced vasoconstriction, followed by slowly developing increases in sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) and heart rate (HR). In male rats, ArcN AngII evoked a similarly slow increase in SNA, but the initial pressor response was variable. In females, the effects of ArcN AngII varied during the estrus cycle, with significant increases in SNA, HR, and AP occurring during diestrus and estrus, but only increased AP during proestrus. Pregnancy markedly increased the expression of AT1aR in the ArcN with parallel substantial AngII-induced increases in SNA and MAP. In both sexes, the sympathoexcitation relied on suppression of tonic ArcN sympathoinhibitory Neuropeptide Y inputs, and activation of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) projections, to the paraventricular nucleus (PVN). Few or no NPY or POMC neurons expressed the AT1aR, suggesting that AngII increases AP and SNA at least in part indirectly via local interneurons, which express tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and VGat (i.e. GABAergic). ArcN TH neurons release GABA locally, and central AT1aR and TH neurons mediate stress responses; therefore, we propose that TH AT1aR neurons are well situated to locally coordinate the regulation of multiple modalities within the ArcN in response to stress.
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