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Br J Pharmacol. 1993 May; 109(1): 6–7.
PMCID: PMC2175593

Propofol stimulates nitric oxide release from cultured porcine aortic endothelial cells.


Propofol, an intravenous anaesthetic agent, causes marked vasodilatation in vivo. In the present study the effects of propofol on the release of nitric oxide (NO) from vascular endothelial cells was determined in vitro. Application of propofol to co-cultures of porcine aortic endothelial and smooth muscle cells resulted in a rapid increase in cyclic GMP formation. This increase was significantly inhibited following pretreatment of the cells with either NG-nitro-L-arginine (L-NOARG) or in the presence of haemoglobin. When applied to smooth muscle cells alone, propofol did not result in an increase in cyclic GMP levels. These results demonstrate that propofol stimulates the production and release of NO from cultured endothelial cells and suggest that the vasodilatation and hypotension observed when propofol is given in vivo may be due to NO release.

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  • Bogle RG, Coade SB, Moncada S, Pearson JD, Mann GE. Bradykinin and ATP stimulate L-arginine uptake and nitric oxide release in vascular endothelial cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1991 Oct 31;180(2):926–932. [PubMed]
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  • Park WK, Lynch C, 3rd, Johns RA. Effects of propofol and thiopental in isolated rat aorta and pulmonary artery. Anesthesiology. 1992 Nov;77(5):956–963. [PubMed]
  • Waldman SA, Murad F. Cyclic GMP synthesis and function. Pharmacol Rev. 1987 Sep;39(3):163–196. [PubMed]

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