Pressor response after stroke commonly leads to early death or susceptibility to stroke recurrence, and detailed mechanisms are still lacking. We assessed the hypothesis that the renin-angiotensin system contributes to pressor response after stroke by differential modulation of the pro-inflammatory chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), a key brain stem site that maintains blood pressure. We also investigated the beneficial effects of a novel renin inhibitor, aliskiren, against stroke-elicited pressor response. Experiments were performed in male adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Stroke induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion elicited significant pressor response, accompanied by activation of angiotensin II (Ang II)/type I receptor (AT1R) and AT2R signaling, depression of Ang-(1-7)/MasR and Ang IV/AT4R cascade, alongside augmentation of MCP-1/C-C chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) signaling and neuroinflammation in the RVLM. Stroke-elicited pressor response was significantly blunted by antagonism of AT1R, AT2R or MCP-1/CCR2 signaling, and eliminated by applying Ang-(1-7) or Ang IV into the RVLM. Furthermore, stroke-activated MCP-1/CCR2 signaling was enhanced by AT1R and AT2R activation, and depressed by Ang-(1-7)/MasR and Ang IV/AT4R cascade. Aliskiren inhibited stroke-elicited pressor response via downregulating MCP-1/CCR2 activity and reduced neuroinflammation in the RVLM; these effects were potentiated by Ang-(1-7) or Ang IV. We conclude that whereas Ang II/AT1R or Ang II/AT2R signaling in the brain stem enhances, Ang-(1-7)/MasR or Ang IV/AT4R antagonizes pressor response after stroke by differential modulations of MCP-1 in the RVLM. Furthermore, combined administration of aliskiren and Ang-(1-7) or Ang IV into the brain stem provides more effective amelioration of stroked-induced pressor response.
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