Reinnervation of renal afferent and efferent nerves at 5.5 and 11 months after catheter-based radiofrequency renal denervation in sheep

Lindsea C. Booth, Erika E. Nishi, Song T. Yao, Rohit Ramchandra, Gavin W. Lambert, Markus P. Schlaich, Clive N. May

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Previous studies indicate that catheter-based renal denervation reduces blood pressure and renal norepinephrine spillover in human resistant hypertension. The effects of this procedure on afferent sensory and efferent sympathetic renal nerves, and the subsequent degree of reinnervation, have not been investigated. We therefore examined the level of functional and anatomic reinnervation at 5.5 and 11 months after renal denervation using the Symplicity Flex catheter. In normotensive anesthetized sheep (n=6), electric stimulation of intact renal nerves increased arterial pressure from 99±3 to 107±3 mm Hg (afferent response) and reduced renal blood flow from 198±16 to 85±20 mL/min (efferent response). In a further group (n=6), immediately after denervation, renal sympathetic nerve activity was absent and the responses to electric stimulation were abolished. At 11 months after denervation (n=5), renal sympathetic nerve activity and the responses to electric stimulation were at normal levels. Immunohistochemical staining for renal efferent (tyrosine hydroxylase) and renal afferent nerves (calcitonin gene-related peptide), as well as renal norepinephrine levels, was normal 11 months after denervation. Findings at 5.5 months after denervation were similar (n=5). In summary, catheter-based renal denervation effectively ablated the renal afferent and efferent nerves in normotensive sheep. By 11 months after denervation the functional afferent and efferent responses to electric stimulation were normal. Reinnervation at 11 months after denervation was supported by normal anatomic distribution of afferent and efferent renal nerves. In view of this evidence, the mechanisms underlying the prolonged hypotensive effect of catheter-based renal denervation in human resistant hypertension need to be reassessed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-400
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


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