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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2003 Dec 3;42(11):1975-81.

Endothelin-1 regulates arterial pulse wave velocity in vivo.

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Clinical Pharmacology Unit, University of Cambridge, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



The aim of this study was to investigate whether endothelin-1, acting locally, regulates arterial distensibility, assessed by measuring pulse-wave velocity in vivo.


Arterial stiffness is a key determinant of cardiovascular risk. Several lines of evidence support a role for the endothelium in regulating arterial stiffness by release of vasoactive mediators. However, the role of endothelin-1 (ET-1) in the regulation of arterial stiffness has not been investigated.


All studies were conducted in anesthetized sheep. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) was calculated using the foot-to-foot methodology from two pressure waveforms simultaneously recorded with a high-fidelity, dual pressure-sensing catheter placed in the common iliac artery.


Intra-arterial infusion of ET-1 significantly increased iliac PWV by 12 +/- 5% (mean +/- STD; p < 0.001), whereas infusion of the endothelin-A (ET(A)) receptor antagonist BQ-123 significantly reduced PWV by 12 +/- 4% (p < 0.001). After BQ-123 infusion, exogenously infused ET-1 did not significantly change PWV compared with infusion of saline (change of -0.08 +/- 0.11% vs. -0.01 +/- 0.07%; p = 0.53). Importantly, infusion of BQ-123 or ET-1 distal to the common iliac artery did not affect PWV.


These results demonstrate, for the first time, that endogenous ET-1 production directly regulates large artery PWV in vivo. In addition, exogenous ET-1 increases PWV, and this can be blunted by ET(A) receptor blockade. These observations explain, in part, why conditions that exhibit up-regulation of ET-1 are also associated with arterial stiffening. Therefore, drugs that block ET(A) receptors may be effective in reducing large artery stiffness in humans, and thus cardiovascular risk.

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