Endothelium-mediated control of vascular tone: COX-1 and COX-2 products

Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Oct;164(3):894-912. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01276.x.


Endothelium-dependent contractions contribute to endothelial dysfunction in various animal models of aging, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In the spontaneously hypertensive rat, the archetypal model for endothelium-dependent contractions, the production of the endothelium-derived contractile factors (EDCF) involves an increase in endothelial intracellular calcium concentration, the production of reactive oxygen species, the predominant activation of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and to a lesser extent that of COX-2, the diffusion of EDCF towards the smooth muscle cells and the subsequent stimulation of their thromboxane A2-endoperoxide TP receptors. Endothelium-dependent contractions are also observed in various models of hypertension, aging and diabetes. They generally also involve the generation of COX-1- and/or COX-2-derived products and the activation of smooth muscle TP receptors. Depending on the model, thromboxane A(2), PGH(2), PGF(2α), PGE(2) and paradoxically PGI(2) can all act as EDCFs. In human, the production of COX-derived EDCF is a characteristic of the aging and diseased blood vessels, with essential hypertension causing an earlier onset and an acceleration of this endothelial dysfunction. As it has been observed in animal models, COX-1, COX-2 or both isoforms can contribute to these endothelial dysfunctions. Since in most cases, the activation of TP receptors is the common downstream effector, selective antagonists of this receptor should curtail endothelial dysfunction and be of therapeutic interest in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / enzymology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cyclooxygenase 1 / metabolism*
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism*
  • Endothelins / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / enzymology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Vasoconstriction / physiology


  • Endothelins
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2