Author(s): Hirata K, Watnabe Y, Yokoyama M, Akita H
This study was undertaken to examine the alterations in vascular relaxation responsiveness to endothelium-dependent or -independent vasodilators, including atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and acetylcholine, in aortas of Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits during the progression of the atherosclerotic plaque. WHHL rabbits were divided into two groups according to age: group 1, 6-11 months, and group 2, 12-18 months. The isolated thoracic aortas obtained from both normal (control) and WHHL rabbits were suspended in a bath containing oxygenated Krebs' buffer for recording of isometric force. The endothelium- dependent relaxation evoked by acetylcholine was reduced in group 1 WHHL rabbits and decreased progressively in proportion to the degree of atherosclerosis progression when compared with age-matched control rabbits. ANP-induced relaxation was not significantly decreased in group 1 WHHL rabbits. However, ANP-induced relaxation was markedly impaired in group 2 WHHL rabbits. Thoracic aortas with severe atherosclerosis were less sensitive to ANP, with a significant increase in the median effective dose, although maximum relaxation induced by ANP was not reduced. Accumulation of cyclic GMP induced by ANP and acetylcholine was markedly reduced in atherosclerotic arteries obtained from group 2 WHHL rabbits compared with control rabbits. Vascular relaxation elicited by nitroglycerin or isoproterenol was not significantly impaired in atherosclerotic arteries from either group 1 or group 2 WHHL rabbits. From these results, we suggest that ANP-induced cyclic GMP formation and vascular relaxation via paniculate guanylate cyclase in vascular smooth muscle cells are impaired in severely atherosclerotic arteries.