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J Physiol. 2011 Oct 1;589(Pt 19):4671-9. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.216218. Epub 2011 Aug 8.

Endothelin B receptor contribution to peripheral microvascular function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

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The John B. Pierce Laboratory, and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, 290 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


Endothelin-1 is elevated in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and may play a role in the endothelial dysfunction associated with PCOS. Endothelin-1 binds two receptor subtypes, endothelin A (ET-A) and endothelin B (ET-B). We hypothesized that ET-A mediates vasoconstriction in the cutaneous microvasculature in women with and without PCOS. We further hypothesized that while the ET-B receptors mediate vasodilatation in both groups of women, this response would be blunted in women with PCOS. During local skin warming, we used laser Doppler flowmetry combined with intradermal microdialysis to measure skin blood flow (SkBF) during graded ET-A (BQ-123) and ET-B (BQ-788) antagonist infusions in women with (n = 6) and without (n = 8) PCOS. In both groups, SkBF increased during local heating. The percentage of maximal SkBF-[BQ123] sigmoidal dose-response curve indicated a vasodilatory response as the concentration of the antagonist increased (Hill slope 4.96 ± 4.77, 4.74 ± 5.01; logED(50) 2.53 ± 0.09, 2.49 ± 0.09 nm, for PCOS and Control, respectively). In contrast, the % max SkBF-[BQ788] curve indicated a vasoconstrictive response (Hill slope -4.69 ± 3.85, -4.03 ± 3.85; logED(50), 2.56 ± 0.09, 2.41 ± 0.12 nm, in PCOS and Control). Moreover, the SkBF-[BQ788] curve shifted to the right in women with PCOS, suggesting attenuated ET-B receptor mediated vasodilatation during local skin warming compared to Controls. Thus, the endothelium located ET-B receptors function similarly in women with and without PCOS, although with blunted responsiveness in women with PCOS. Our studies suggest that the lower ET-B receptor responsiveness associated with PCOS may reflect lower endothelial-mediated vasodilatation independent of generally lower vascular reactivity.

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