1. Multiple cell membrane alterations have been described in humans and animals with various genetic forms of hypertension and/or dyslipidaemia. The aim of our study was to characterize membrane microviscosity, using two different fluorescent probes exploring either the outer membrane leaflet [trimethylamino-diphenylhexatriene (TMA-DPH)] or the lipid membrane core [diphenylhexatriene (DPH)], in platelets and erythrocytes of genetically hypertensive rats of the Prague hereditary hypertriglyceridaemic (HTG) strain. The relationships of membrane microviscosity to hypertension, hypertriglyceridaemia and cell calcium handling were also investigated.

2. Membrane microviscosity was similar in HTG and normotensive control Wistar rats when measured in platelets or erythrocyte ghosts incubated in Na+-containing medium. On the contrary, TMA-DPH fluorescence anisotropy was significantly reduced in HTG platelets incubated in Na+-free medium because external Na+ removal elicited a larger rise of TMA-DPH anisotropy in Wistar platelets.

3. Plasma triacylglycerols were associated positively with platelet TMA-DPH anisotropy and negatively with DPH anisotropy in both strains. The slopes of these relationships were reduced in HTG compared with Wistar rats. Platelet TMA-DPH anisotropy correlated positively and DPH anisotropy negatively with the cytosolic calcium concentration in unstimulated platelets, the slopes being almost identical in both strains.

4. Pulse pressure correlated negatively with TMA-DPH anisotropy and positively with DPH anisotropy found in erythrocyte ghosts.

5. The present results suggest that plasma triacylglycerols and cytosolic calcium are capable of modulating the membrane microviscosity in this new animal model of genetic hypertension associated with hypertriglyceridaemia.

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