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Cardiovascular disease is the most prevalent age-related illness worldwide, causing approximately 15 million deaths every year. Hypertension is central in determining cardiovascular risk and is a strong predictive indicator of morbidity and mortality; however, there remains an unmet clinical need for disease-modifying and prophylactic interventions. Enhanced sympathetic activity is a well-established contributor to the pathophysiology of hypertension, however the cellular and molecular changes that increase sympathetic neurotransmission are not known. The aim of this study was to identify key changes in the transcriptome in normotensive and spontaneously hypertensive rats. We validated 15 of our top-scoring genes using qRT-PCR, and network and enrichment analyses suggest that glutamatergic signalling plays a key role in modulating Ca2+ balance within these ganglia. Additionally, phosphodiesterase activity was found to be altered in stellates obtained from the hypertensive rat, suggesting that impaired cyclic nucleotide signalling may contribute to disturbed Ca2+ homeostasis and sympathetic hyperactivity in hypertension. We have also confirmed the presence of these transcripts in human donor stellate samples, suggesting that key genes coupled to neurotransmission are conserved. The data described here may provide novel targets for future interventions aimed at treating sympathetic hyperactivity associated with cardiovascular disease and other dysautonomias.

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