We investigated possible changes in bioenergetics at the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), a medullary site where sympathetic vasomotor tone originates and where the organophosphate poison mevinphos (Mev) acts to elicit cardiovascular intoxication. In Sprague-Dawley rats maintained under propofol anesthesia, microinjection bilaterally of Mev (10 nmol) into the RVLM induced progressive hypotension that was accompanied by an early augmentation (80-100 min post-Mev; Phase I), followed by a decrease (>100 min post-Mev; Phase II) in the power density of the vasomotor components (0-0.8 Hz) in systemic arterial pressure (SAP) signals. Enzyme assay revealed that local application of Mev into the RVLM also significantly and progressively depressed the activity of NADH cytochrome c reductase (marker for Complexes I and III) and cytochrome c oxidase (marker for Complex IV) in the mitochondrial respiratory chain of the RVLM, but not the heart. On the other hand, the activity of succinate cytochrome c reductase (marker for Complexes II and III) remained unaltered. Both the cardiovascular consequences and depression of mitochondrial respiratory chain enzymes elicited by Mev were significantly antagonized on comicroinjection of atropine (3.5 or 7 nmol) bilaterally into the RVLM. We conclude that Mev adversely effects cardiovascular control by acting as a cholinesterase inhibitor in the RVLM, whose neuronal activity is intimately related to the death process. The resulting accumulation of acetylcholine and prolonged activation of muscarinic receptors in the RVLM is manifested by a selective dysfunction of respiratory enzyme Complexes I and IV in the mitochondrial respiratory chain that underlies cardiovascular toxicity associated with organophosphate poisons such as Mev.
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