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Heart failure leads to hypoperfusion and hypooxygenation of tissues and this is often
exacerbated by sleep apnoeas associated with recurrent episodes of systemic hypoxia
and hypercapnia/hypocapnia. Astrocytes residing in the rostral ventrolateral medulla
oblongata (RVLM) may function as brain chemoreceptors. They sense PCO2/pH changes and via release of ATP impart these changes on the respiratory neurones
triggering adaptive increases in breathing. We used in vitro and in vivo models to determine whether selective activation of RVLM astrocytes is also capable
of increasing the activity of sympathoexcitatory (pre-sympathetic) RVLM neurones.
We also explored whether ATP actions in the RVLM contribute to maladaptive and detrimental
sympathoexcitation in heart failure.
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