Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Medical Sciences

Major Professor

Thomas E. Taylor Clark, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Bennett, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Javier Cuevas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jay Dean, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Srinivas Tipparaju, Ph.D.


sensory nerves, TRPA1, autonomic nervous system, arrhythmia


Acute inhalation of airborne pollutants alters cardiovascular function and has been shown to have its greatest affects on individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Evidence suggests that pollutant-induced activation of airway sensory nerves via the gating of ion channels is critical to these systemic responses. Here, we have investigated the cardiovascular responses evoked by inhalation of AITC (TRPA1 agonist) and capsaicin (TRPV1 agonist) in healthy Sprague Dawley (SD) and Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rats, and cardiovascular diseased Spontaneously Hypertensive (SH) rats. Inhalation of the agonists by healthy SD and WKY rats caused significant bradycardia, atrio-ventricular (AV) block and prolonged PR-Intervals. Inhalation of TRP agonists caused differential cardiovascular responses in the cardiovascular diseased SH rats, such that the TRP agonists evoked brady-tachy with AV block and premature ventricular contractions (PVCs). Bradycardic responses to AITC were inhibited by the TRP channel blocker ruthenium red and the muscarinic antagonist atropine, but atropine did not prevent the tachycardic responses seen in the SH rats. Adrenergic inhibition with atenolol prevented the tachycardic responses, but did not prevent the bradycardic responses evoked by AITC in the SH rats. In healthy rats, AITC inhalation also caused a biphasic blood pressure response: a brief hypertensive phase followed by a hypotensive phase, while evoking hypertension in the SH rats. Atropine accentuated the hypertensive phase in all animals, while preventing the hypotension in the healthy animals. In all animals, AITC-evoked heart rate responses were not abolished by terazosin, the [U+F061]1 adrenoceptor inhibitor, which prevented the hypertensive responses. Anesthetics had profound effects on AITC-evoked bradycardia and AV block, which was abolished by urethane, ketamine and isoflurane. Nevertheless, AITC inhalation caused bradycardia and AV block in paralyzed and ventilated rats following pre-collicular decerebration. In conclusion, we provide evidence that activation of TRP channels expressed on nociceptive airway sensory nerves causes significant cardiovascular effects in healthy rats via reflex modulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and that these effects are exacerbated in cardiovascular diseased rats.