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Pharmacology. 2003 Dec;69(4):171-6.

Vascular protective effects of dihydropyridine calcium antagonists. Involvement of endothelial nitric oxide.

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  • 1Institut für Pharmakologie, Klinikum der Universität zu Köln, Köln, Deutschland.


Dihydropyridine calcium antagonists play an important role in the treatment of hypertension and angina pectoris. They lower blood pressure by a well-characterized mechanism of blocking L-type calcium channels in smooth muscle cells. Additionally, there is growing evidence that dihydropyridines also modulate endothelial functions by other mechanisms, since macrovascular endothelial cells do not express L-type calcium channels. A number of studies have demonstrated that dihydropyridine calcium antagonists enhance bioavailability of endothelial nitric oxide (NO). Endothelium-derived NO plays a pivotal role in the regulation of vasorelaxation, leukocyte adhesion and platelet aggregation and an impaired NO release is associated with the genesis and progression of atherosclerotic diseases. This review summarizes results from experimental findings that dihydropyridine calcium antagonists increase endothelial NO formation as well as studies which demonstrate these effects in vivo both in animals and humans. Moreover, the influence of dihydropyridine calcium antagonists on the progression of atherosclerosis is discussed. These pleiotropic effects of dihydropyridine calcium antagonists may underlie or contribute to antiatherosclerotic effects of this substance class.

Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

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