Effects of salt loading on the organisation of microtubules in rat magnocellular vasopressin neurones Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractMagnocellular vasopressin (VP) neurones are activated by increases in blood osmolality, leading to the secretion of VP into the circulation to promote water retention in the kidney, thus constituting a key mechanism for the regulation of body fluid homeostasis. However, chronic high salt intake can lead to excessive activation of VP neurones and increased circulating levels of VP, contributing to an elevation in blood pressure. Multiple extrinsic factors, such as synaptic inputs and glial cells, modulate the activity of VP neurones. Moreover, magnocellular neurones are intrinsically osmosensitive, and are activated by hypertonicity in the absence of neighbouring cells or synaptic contacts. Hypertonicity triggers cell shrinking, leading to the activation of VP neurones. This cell‐autonomous activation is mediated by a scaffold of dense somatic microtubules, uniquely present in VP magnocellular neurones. Treating isolated magnocellular neurones with drugs modulating microtubule stability modifies the sensitivity of neuronal activation in response to acute hypertonic stimuli. However, whether the microtubule network is altered in conditions associated with enhanced neuronal activation and increased VP release, such as chronic high salt intake, remains unknown. We examined the organisation of microtubules in VP neurones of the supraoptic and paraventricular hypothalamic nuclei (SON and PVN, respectively) of rats subjected to salt‐loading (drinking 2% NaCl for 7 days). Using super‐resolution imaging, we found that the density of microtubules in magnocellular VP neurones from the SON and PVN was significantly increased, whereas the density and organisation of microtubules remain unchanged in other hypothalamic neurones, as well as in neurones from other brain areas (e.g., hippocampus, cortex). We propose that the increase in microtubule density in magnocellular VP neurones in salt‐loading promotes their enhanced activation, possibly contributing to elevated blood pressure in this condition.


  • Hicks, Amirah‐Iman
  • Barad, Zsuzsanna
  • Sobrero, Alberto
  • Lean, Graham
  • Jacob‐Tomas, Suleima
  • Yang, Jieyi
  • Choe, Katrina
  • Prager‐Khoutorsky, Masha

publication date

  • February 2020