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J Hum Hypertens. 1992 Dec;6 Suppl 2:S3-8.

Endothelin-induced vasoconstriction and calcium antagonists.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University Hospitals Basel, Switzerland.


Endothelial cells can produce contracting factors; endothelin, a 21-amino acid peptide, is one of the most potent of these factors, which can control local vascular tone. The peptide is formed from its precursor, big endothelin, via the activity of the endothelin converting enzyme. The basal production of the peptide is stimulated by epinephrine, angiotensin II, arginine vasopressin, transforming growth factor beta, thrombin, interleukin-1 and the calcium ionophore A23187. In vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelin binds to its specific receptor (ETA-receptor and possibly ETB-receptor) which activate phospholipase C and lead to the formation of inositol trisphosphate, diacylglycerol and increased intracellular calcium levels. In certain blood vessels, the endothelin receptor is linked to voltage-operated calcium channels via a Gi-protein. This linkage may explain why calcium antagonists inhibit endothelin-induced contractions in certain, but not other blood vessels. In large conduit arteries, such as the human internal mammary artery, endothelin-induced contractions are primarily mediated by release of intracellular calcium and hence, calcium antagonists do not markedly affect the response. In contrast, in the human forearm circulation, calcium antagonists of different classes do prevent endothelin-induced contractions. Similarly, in mesenteric resistance arteries of the rat, calcium antagonists can reverse endothelin-induced contraction suggesting that calcium antagonists are particularly potent in inhibiting endothelin-induced contraction in resistance arteries, where peripheral vascular resistance and hence, blood pressure is regulated.

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