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Endothelium-dependent contractions: when a good guy turns bad!

By Paul M Vanhoutte and Eva H C Tang


Endothelial cells can induce contractions of the underlying vascular smooth muscle by generating vasoconstrictor prostanoids (endothelium-dependent contracting factor; EDCF). The endothelial COX-1 isoform of cyclooxygenase appears to play the dominant role in the phenomenon. Its activation requires an increase in intracellular Ca2+ concentration. The production of EDCF is inhibited acutely and chronically by nitric oxide (NO), and possibly by endothelium-dependent hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). The main prostanoids involved in endothelium-dependent contractions appear to be endoperoxides (PGH2) and prostacyclin, which activate thromboxane-prostanoid (TP) receptors of the vascular smooth muscle cells. Oxygen-derived free radicals can facilitate the production and/or the action of EDCF. Endothelium-dependent contractions are exacerbated by ageing, obesity, hypertension and diabetes, and thus are likely to contribute to the endothelial dysfunction observed in older people and in essential hypertensive patients

Topics: Topical Reviews
Publisher: Blackwell Science Inc
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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