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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 Oct;301(4):H1302-10. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00469.2011. Epub 2011 Jul 22.

Mechanisms of ATP-mediated vasodilation in humans: modest role for nitric oxide and vasodilating prostaglandins.

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Human Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Vascular Physiology Research Group, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523-1582, USA.


ATP is an endothelium-dependent vasodilator, and findings regarding the underlying signaling mechanisms are equivocal. We sought to determine the independent and interactive roles of nitric oxide (NO) and vasodilating prostaglandins (PGs) in ATP-mediated vasodilation in young, healthy humans and determine whether any potential role was dependent on ATP dose or the timing of inhibition. In protocol 1 (n = 18), a dose-response curve to intrabrachial infusion of ATP was performed before and after both single and combined inhibition of NO synthase [N(G)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA)] and cyclooxygenase (ketorolac). Forearm blood flow (FBF) was measured via venous occlusion plethysmography and forearm vascular conductance (FVC) was calculated. In this protocol, neither individual nor combined NO/PG inhibition had any effect on the vasodilatory response (P = 0.22-0.99). In protocol 2 (n = 16), we determined whether any possible contribution of both NO and PGs to ATP vasodilation was greater at low vs. high doses of ATP and whether inhibition during steady-state infusion of the respective dose of ATP impacted the dilation. FBF in this protocol was measured via Doppler ultrasound. In protocol 2, infusion of low (n = 8)- and high-dose (n = 8) ATP for 5 min evoked a significant increase in FVC above baseline (low = 198 ± 24%; high = 706 ± 79%). Infusion of L-NMMA and ketorolac together reduced steady-state FVC during both low- and high-dose ATP (P < 0.05), and in a subsequent trial with continuous NO/PG blockade, the vasodilator response from baseline to 5 min of steady-state infusion was similarly reduced for both low (ΔFVC = -31 ± 11%)- and high-dose ATP (ΔFVC -25 ± 11%; P = 0.70 low vs. high dose). Collectively, our findings indicate a potential modest role for NO and PGs in the vasodilatory response to exogenous ATP in the human forearm that does not appear to be dose or timing dependent; however, this is dependent on the method for assessing forearm vascular responses. Importantly, the majority of ATP-mediated vasodilation is independent of these putative endothelium-dependent pathways in humans.

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