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Hypertension. 2012 Feb;59(2):402-8. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.184937. Epub 2012 Jan 3.

Agonistic autoantibodies as vasodilators in orthostatic hypotension: a new mechanism.

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Oklahoma City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.


Agonistic autoantibodies to the β-adrenergic and muscarinic receptors are a novel investigative and therapeutic target for certain orthostatic disorders. We have identified the presence of autoantibodies to β2-adrenergic and/or M3 muscarinic receptors by ELISA in 75% (15 of 20) of patients with significant orthostatic hypotension. Purified serum IgG from all 20 of the patients and 10 healthy control subjects were examined in a receptor-transfected cell-based cAMP assay for β2 receptor activation and β-arrestin assay for M3 receptor activation. There was a significant increase in IgG-induced activation of β2 and M3 receptors in the patient group compared with controls. A dose response was observed for both IgG activation of β2 and M3 receptors and inhibition of their activation with the nonselective β blocker propranolol and muscarinic blocker atropine. The antibody effects on β2 and/or M3 (via production of NO) receptor-mediated vasodilation were studied in a rat cremaster resistance arteriole assay. Infusion of IgG from patients with documented β2 and/or M3 receptor agonistic activity produced a dose-dependent vasodilation. Sequential addition of the β-blocker propranolol and the NO synthase inhibitor N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester partially inhibited IgG-induced vasodilation (percentage of maximal dilatory response: from 57.7±10.4 to 35.3±4.6 and 24.3±5.8, respectively; P<0.01; n=3), indicating that antibody activation of vascular β2 and/or M3 receptors may contribute to systemic vasodilation. These data support the concept that circulating agonistic autoantibodies serve as vasodilators and may cause or exacerbate orthostatic hypotension.

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