Hypertension can be attributed to increased sympathetic activities. Presympathetic neurons in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus are capable of modulating sympathetic outflow, thus contributing to the pathogenesis of neurogenic hypertension. Epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) were reported to have anti-hypertensive effects, which could be degraded by soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH), encoded by EPHX2. However, the potential effect of EETs on PVN neuron activity and the underlying molecular mechanism are largely unknown. Knockdown of EPHX2 in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) was achieved by tail-intravenous injection of AAV plasmid containing shRNA targeting EPHX2. Whole-cell patch clamp was used to record action potentials of PVN neurons. An LC-MS/MS System was employed to determine 14,15-EET levels in rat cerebrospinal fluid. qPCR and western blotting were applied to examine the expression level of EPHX2 in various tissues. ELISA and immunofluorescence staining were applied to examine the levels of ATP, D-serine and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in isolated astrocytes. The expression level of EPHX2 was higher, while the level of 14,15-EET was lower in SHRs than normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY) rats. The spike firing frequency of PNV neurons in SHRs was higher than in WKY rats at a given stimulus current, which could be reduced by either EPHX2 downregulation or 14,15-EET administration. In isolated hypothalamic astrocytes, the elevated intracellular ATP or D-serine induced by Angiotensin II (Ang II) treatment could be rescued by 14,15-EET addition or 14,15-EET combing serine racemase (SR) downregulation by siRNA, respectively. Furthermore, 14,15-EET treatment reduced the Ang II-induced elevation of GFAP immunofluorescence. The elevation of EET levels by EPHX2 downregulation reduced presympathetic neuronal activity in the PVN of SHRs, leading to a reduced sympathetic outflow in hypertension rats. The ATP/SR/D-serine pathway of astrocytes is involved in EET-mediated neuroprotection.

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