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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2008 May;294(5):H1978-86. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.01318.2007. Epub 2008 Feb 29.

Sympathy for the devil: the role of thromboxane in the regulation of vascular tone and blood pressure.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4466, USA.


Historically, the vasodilatory prostanoids, especially prostacyclin and prostaglandin E(2), are believed to contribute significantly to the regulation of normal vascular tone and blood pressure (BP), primarily by counteracting the prevailing effects of the systemic vasoconstrictor systems, including angiotensin II, the catecholamines, and vasopressin. In contrast, the primary vasoconstrictor prostanoid thromboxane A(2) (TxA(2)) is produced in far smaller quantities in the normal state. While TxA(2) is believed to play a significant role in a variety of cardiovascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction, cerebral vasospasm, hypertension, preeclampsia, and various thrombotic disorders, its role in the regulation of vascular tone and BP in the normal physiological state is, at best, uncertain. Numerous studies have firmly established the dogma that TxA(2), while important in pathophysiological states in males, plays little or no role in the regulation of vascular tone or BP in females, except in the pulmonary vasculature. However, this concept is largely based on the predominant and preferential use of males in animal and human studies. Recent studies from our laboratory and others challenge this dogma and reveal that the TxA(2) pathway in the systemic vascular wall is an estrogen-dependent mechanism that appears to play an important role in the regulation of vascular tone and BP in females, in both normal and pathophysiological states. It is proposed that the potent vasoconstrictor action of TxA(2) is beneficial in the female in the normal state by acting as a local counterregulatory mechanism to increase vascular tone and BP and defend against hypotension that could result from the multiple estrogen-sensitive local vasodilator mechanisms present in the female vascular wall. Validation of this proposal must await further studies at the systemic, tissue, and molecular levels.

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