The expression and effects of β-adrenergic receptors (β-ARs) on the neurons of the bulbospinal rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) have been limitedly examined to date. The objective of this study was to examine the expression of β1- and β2-ARs on the bulbospinal RVLM neurons electrophysiologically and histologically. To directly investigate whether RVLM neurons display sensitivity to metoprolol (a β1-AR antagonist), dobutamine (a β1-AR agonist), butoxamine (a β2-AR antagonist), and salbutamol (a β2-AR agonist), we examined changes in the membrane potentials of the bulbospinal RVLM neurons using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique during superfusion of these drugs. During metoprolol superfusion, 16 of the 20 RVLM neurons were hyperpolarized, and 5 of the 6 RVLM neurons were depolarized during dobutamine superfusion. During butoxamine superfusion, 11 of the 16 RVLM neurons were depolarized, and all of the 8 RVLM neurons were hyperpolarized during salbutamol superfusion. These results suggest the expression of β1- and β2-ARs on the RVLM neurons. To determine the presence of β1- and β2-ARs histologically, immunofluorescence examination was performed. Five metoprolol-hyperpolarized neurons were examined for β1-AR and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity. All of the neurons displayed β1-AR immunoreactivity, whereas three of the neurons displayed TH immunoreactivity. All of the five RVLM neurons that became depolarized during metoprolol superfusion and hyperpolarized during butoxamine superfusion displayed β1- and β2-AR immunoreactivity. Our findings suggest that β1-AR antagonists or β2-AR agonists may decrease blood pressure through decreasing the activity of the bulbospinal RVLM neurons.
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