Background: The development of essential hypertension is associated with a wide range of mechanisms. The brain stem neurons are essential for the homeostatic regulation of arterial pressure as they control baroreflex and sympathetic nerve activity. The ISIAH (Inherited Stress Induced Arterial Hypertension) rats reproduce the human stress-sensitive hypertensive disease with predominant activation of the neuroendocrine hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal and sympathetic adrenal axes. RNA-Seq analysis of the brain stems from the hypertensive ISIAH and normotensive control WAG (Wistar Albino Glaxo) rats was performed to identify the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and the main central mechanisms (biological processes and metabolic pathways) contributing to the hypertensive state in the ISIAH rats.
Results: The study revealed 224 DEGs. Their annotation in databases showed that 22 of them were associated with hypertension and blood pressure (BP) regulation, and 61 DEGs were associated with central nervous system diseases. In accordance with the functional annotation of DEGs, the key role of hormonal metabolic processes and, in particular, the enhanced biosynthesis of aldosterone in the brain stem of ISIAH rats was proposed. Multiple DEGs associated with several Gene Ontology (GO) terms essentially related to modulation of BP were identified. Abundant groups of DEGs were related to GO terms associated with responses to different stimuli including response to organic (hormonal) substance, to external stimulus, and to stress. Several DEGs making the most contribution to the inter-strain differences were detected including the Ephx2, which was earlier defined as a major candidate gene in the studies of transcriptional profiles in different tissues/organs (hypothalamus, adrenal gland and kidney) of ISIAH rats.
Conclusions: The results of the study showed that inter-strain differences in ISIAH and WAG brain stem functioning might be a result of the imbalance in processes leading to the pathology development and those, exerting the compensatory effects. The data obtained in this study are useful for a better understanding of the genetic mechanisms underlying the complexity of the brain stem processes in ISIAH rats, which are a model of stresssensitive form of hypertension.
Keywords: Stress-sensitive hypertension, Brain stem, Transcriptional profiling, RNA-Seq, ISIAH rat strain