Author(s): Furchgott RF, Vanhoutte PM
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Abstract Endothelium-dependent relaxation of blood vessels is produced by a large number of agents (e.g., acetylcholine, ATP and ADP, substance P, bradykinin, histamine, thrombin, serotonin). With some agents, relaxation may be limited to certain species and/or blood vessels. Relaxation results from release of a very labile non-prostanoid endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF) or factors. EDRF stimulates guanylate cyclase of the vascular smooth muscle, with the resulting increase in cyclic GMP activating relaxation. EDRF is rapidly inactivated by hemoglobin and superoxide. There is strong evidence that EDRF from many blood vessels and from cultured endothelial cells is nitric oxide (NO) and that its precursor is L-arginine. There is evidence for other relaxing factors, including an endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor in some vessels. Flow-induced shear stress also stimulates EDRF release. Endothelium-dependent relaxation occurs in resistance vessels as well as in larger arteries, and is generally more pronounced in arteries than veins. EDRF also inhibits platelet aggregation and adhesion to the blood vessel wall. Endothelium-derived contracting factors appear to be responsible for endothelium-dependent contractions produced by arachidonic acid and hypoxia in isolated systemic vessels and by certain agents and by rapid stretch in isolated cerebral vessels. In all such experiments, the endothelium-derived contracting factor appears to be some product or by-product of cyclooxygenase activity. Recently, endothelial cells in culture have been found to synthesize a peptide, endothelin, which is an extremely potent vasoconstrictor. The possible physiological roles and pathophysiological significance of endothelium-derived relaxing and contracting factors are briefly discussed.
This article was published in FASEB J
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology