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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2003 Feb;81(2):168-76.

Effect of antihypertensive treatment on small artery remodeling in hypertension.

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Multidisciplinary Research Group on Hypertension, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, 110 Pine Avenue West, Montréal, QC H2W 1R7, Canada.


Blood vessels are remodeled in hypertension both structurally and functionally. The changes that occur in their structure, mechanical properties, and function contribute to blood pressure elevation and to complications of hypertension. We studied the remodeling of small arteries in experimental animals and humans. Smooth muscle cells of small arteries are restructured around a smaller lumen, with significant remodeling of the extracellular matrix and collagen and fibronectin deposition. Interestingly, there is no evidence of net growth of the vascular wall (which results in so-called eutrophic remodeling), particularly in the milder forms of human essential hypertension. Hypertrophic remodeling and increased small artery stiffness may be found in more severe forms of hypertension. Almost all hypertensive patients have vascular structural remodeling. However, only some exhibit endothelial dysfunction. This is particularly true in mild hypertension, in which endothelial dysfunction is less common. A 1-year treatment of hypertensive patients with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin AT1 receptor antagonists, and long acting calcium channel blockers corrected small artery structure and, to variable degrees depending on the agents used, impaired endothelial function. In contrast, beta blockers did not improve structure, function, or mechanics of vessels. When beta-blocker-treated patients were switched to an AT1 receptor antagonist, small artery structure and impaired endothelial function were corrected. The vascular protective action of some antihypertensive agents may contribute to improve outcome for hypertensive patients, although this is presently unproven.

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