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Exp Eye Res. 2003 May;76(5):633-40.

Regulation of human retinal blood flow by endothelin-1.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Vienna General Hospital, University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, Vienna 1090, Austria.


There is evidence from in vitro and animal studies that endothelin is a major regulator of retinal blood flow. We set out to characterize the role of the endothelin-system in the blood flow control of the human retina. Two studies in healthy subjects were performed. The study design was randomized, placebo-controlled, double-masked, balanced, two-way crossover in protocol A and three way-way crossover in protocol B. In protocol A 18 healthy male subjects received intravenous endothelin-1 (ET-1) in a dose of 2.5 ng kg (-1)min(-1) for 30 min or placebo on two different study days and retinal vessel diameters were measured. In protocol B 12 healthy male subjects received ET-1 in stepwise increasing doses of 0, 1.25, 2.5 and 5 ng kg (-1)min(-1) (each infusion step over 20 min) in co-infusion with the specific ET(A)-receptor antagonist BQ123 (60 microg min (-1)) or placebo or BQ123 alone investigating retinal vessel diameters, retinal blood velocity and retinal blood flow. Measurements of retinal vessel size were done with the Zeiss retinal vessel analyzer. Measurements of blood velocities were done with bi-directional laser Doppler velocimetry. From these measurements retinal blood flow was calculated. In protocol A exogenous ET-1 tended to decrease retinal arterial diameter, but this effect was not significant versus placebo. No effect on retinal venous diameter was seen. In protocol B retinal venous blood velocity and retinal blood flow was significantly reduced after administration of exogenous ET-1. These effects were significantly blunted when BQ-123 was co-administered. By contrast, BQ-123 alone had no effect on retinal hemodynamic parameters. Concluding, BQ123 antagonizes the effects of exogenously administered ET-1 on retinal blood flow in healthy subjects. In addition, the results of the present study are compatible with the hypothesis that ET-1 exerts its vasoconstrictor effects in the retina mainly on the microvessels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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