Cytokines and vascular reactivity in resistance arteries

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2005 Mar;288(3):H1016-21. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00779.2004.


Cytokine levels are elevated in many cardiovascular diseases and seem to be implicated in the associated disturbances in vascular reactivity reported in these diseases. Arterial blood pressure is maintained within a normal range by changes in peripheral resistance and cardiac output. Peripheral resistance is mainly determined by small resistance arteries and arterioles. This review focuses on the effects of cytokines, mainly TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, and IL-6, on the reactivity of resistance arteries. The vascular effects of cytokines depend on the balance between the vasoactive mediators released under their influence in the different vascular beds. Cytokines may induce a vasodilatation and hyporesponsiveness to vasoconstrictors that may be relevant to the pathogenesis of septic shock. Cytokines may also induce vasoconstriction or increase the response to vasoconstrictor agents and impair endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. These effects may help predispose to vessel spasm, thrombosis, and atherogenesis and reinforce the link between inflammation and vascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / physiology*
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Vascular Resistance / immunology*
  • Vasculitis / immunology
  • Vasculitis / physiopathology*
  • Vasoconstriction / immunology*


  • Cytokines