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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2006 Jun;47(6):2528-32.

Altered endothelin-1 vasoreactivity in patients with untreated normal-pressure glaucoma.

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  • 1Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, and The Clinical Pharmacology Unit, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, United Kingdom.



Vasospasm, resulting from a generalized dysfunction in the vascular endothelium, is implicated in the development of normal-pressure glaucoma (NPG). Impaired endothelium-derived nitric oxide activity and abnormalities of the endothelin system suggest systemic endothelial cell dysfunction in patients with NPG. Endothelin (ET)-1 vasoreactivity was assessed in the peripheral circulation of patients with NPG.


Forearm blood flow was measured using venous occlusion plethysmography in eight patients with untreated NPG and eight age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers during intra-arterial infusion of ET-1 (5 pmol/min) and, on a separate occasion, to BQ123, a selective endothelin-A receptor antagonist, (100 nmol/min). Blood pressure and heart rate were measured in the noninfused arm, and plasma ET-1 concentrations were measured using a radioimmunoassay.


Forearm blood flow fell during infusion of ET-1 (P<0.001 for both) to a similar extent in both groups (P=0.7; patients versus control subjects). In contrast, BQ123 increased forearm blood flow in both groups (P<0.001 for both), although the vasodilatation was lower in patients than in control subjects (P<0.001; patients versus control subjects). There was no difference in basal plasma ET-1 concentrations between the two groups (P=0.81; patients versus control subjects).


Despite normal responses to ET-1, patients with NPG have reduced vasodilatation in response to ETA-receptor antagonism. This could be due to attenuated ETA-receptor-mediated tone, increased ETB-receptor-mediated contraction or impaired ETB-receptor-mediated release of endothelial nitric oxide. These results are consistent with the authors' previous demonstration of systemic vascular dysfunction in patients with NPG.

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