Increased glutamatergic input in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) is important for high sympathetic outflow in hypertension, but the associated molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we determined the role of protein kinase CK2 (formerly casein kinase II) in increased N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) activity in spinally projecting PVN neurons and sympathetic vasomotor tone in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). The selective CK2 inhibitors 5,6-dichloro-1-β-D-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole (DRB) or 4,5,6,7- tetrabromobenzotriazole (TBB) significantly decreased the frequency of miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) of labeledPVNneurons in SHRs but not in Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) normotensive rats. Also, DRB abolished the inhibitory effect of theNMDARantagonist AP5 on the frequency of mEPSCs in SHRs. Treatment with DRB or TBB significantly reduced the amplitude of evoked NMDA-EPSCs but not AMPA-EPSCs in SHRs. Furthermore, DRB significantly decreased the firing activity of PVN neurons in SHRs but not inWKYrats. The membrane protein level of CK2αin the PVN, but not brainstem and prefrontal cortex, was significantly higher in SHRs than in WKY rats. Lowering blood pressure with celiac ganglionectomy in SHRs did not alter the increased CK2α level and the effects ofDRBon mEPSCs and NMDA-EPSCs. In addition, intracerebroventricular injection of DRB not only significantly reduced blood pressure and lumbar sympathetic nerve discharges but also eliminated the inhibitory effect ofAP5microinjected into thePVNon sympathetic nerve activity in SHRs. Our findings suggest that augmented CK2 activity critically contributes to increased presynaptic and postsynaptic NMDAR activity in the PVN and elevated sympathetic vasomotor tone in essential hypertension.
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