Recent studies have reported that the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) suppressed oxidative stress. The aim of this study was to examine whether the activation of AMPK in the brain decreased Rac1-induced ROS generation, thereby reducing blood pressure (BP) in rats with fructose-induced hypertension. The inhibition of ROS by treatment with an AMPK activator (oral resveratrol, 10 mg/kg/day) for 1 week decreased the BP and increased the NO production in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) of fructose-fed rats but not in control Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats. In addition, resveratrol treatment abolished the Rac1-induced increases in the activity of the NADPH oxidase subunits p22-phox and reduced the activity of SOD2, while treatment with an AMPK inhibitor (compound C, 40 μM/day) had the opposite effect, in the fructose-fed rats. Interestingly, the activation of AMPK abolished Rac1 activation and decreased BP by inducing the activities of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) and ribosomal protein S6 kinase (RSK) and nNOS phosphorylation in the fructose-fed rats. We conclude that the activation of AMPK decreased BP, abolished ROS generation, and enhanced ERK1/2-RSK-nNOS pathway activity by negatively regulating Racl-induced NADPH oxidase levels in the RVLM during oxidative stress-associated hypertension.
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