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Anesthesiology. 2011 Feb;114(2):374-9. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e318204e029.

Salvinorin A produces cerebrovasodilation through activation of nitric oxide synthase, κ receptor, and adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium channel.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.



Salvinorin A is a nonopioid, selective κ opioid-receptor agonist. Despite its high potential for clinical application, its pharmacologic profile is not well known. In the current study, we hypothesized that salvinorin A dilates pial arteries via activation of nitric oxide synthase, adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium channels, and opioid receptors.


Cerebral artery diameters and cyclic guanosine monophosphate in cortical periarachnoid cerebrospinal fluid were monitored in piglets equipped with closed cranial windows. Observation took place before and after salvinorin A administration in the presence or absence of an opioid antagonist (naloxone), a κ opioid receptor-selective antagonist (norbinaltorphimine), nitric oxide synthase inhibitors (N(G)-nitro-L-arginine and 7-nitroindazole), a dopamine receptor D2 antagonist (sulpiride), and adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium and Ca-activated K channel antagonists (glibenclamide and iberiotoxin). The effects of salvinorin A on the constricted cerebral artery induced by hypocarbia and endothelin were investigated. Data were analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA (n = 5) with statistical significance set at a P value of less than 0.05.


Salvinorin A induced immediate but brief vasodilatation that was sustained for 30 min via continual administration every 2 min. Vasodilatation and the associated cyclic guanosine monophosphate elevation in cerebrospinal fluid were abolished by preadministration N(G)-nitro-L-arginine, but not 7-nitroindazole. Although naloxone, norbinaltorphimine, and glibenclamide abolished salvinorin A-induced cerebrovasodilation, this response was unchanged by iberiotoxin and sulpiride. Hypocarbia and endothelin-constricted pial arteries responded similarly to salvinorin A, to the extent observed under resting tone.


Salvinorin A dilates cerebral arteries via activation of nitric oxide synthase, adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium channel, and the κ opioid receptor.

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