Background: The systemic vascular response to hypoxia is vasodilation. However, reports suggest that the potent vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 (ET-1) is released from the vasculature during hypoxia. ET-1 is reported to augment superoxide anion generation and may counteract nitric oxide (NO) vasodilation. Moreover, ET-1 was proposed to contribute to increased vascular resistance in heart failure by increasing the production of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA). We investigated the role of ET-1, the NO pathway, the potassium channels and radical oxygen species in hypoxia-induced vasodilation of large coronary arteries.
Results: In prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α, 10 μM)-contracted segments with endothelium, gradual lowering of oxygen tension from 95 to 1% O2 resulted in vasodilation. The vasodilation to O2 lowering was rightward shifted in segments without endothelium at all O2 concentrations except at 1% O2. The endothelin receptor antagonist SB217242 (10 μM) markedly increased hypoxic dilation despite the free tissue ET-1 concentration in the arterial wall was unchanged in 1% O2 versus 95% O2. Exogenous ET-1 reversed hypoxic dilation in segments with and without endothelium, and the hypoxic arteries showed an increased sensitivity towards ET-1 compared to the normoxic controls. Without affecting basal NO, hypoxia increased NO concentration in PGF2α-contracted arteries, and an NO synthase inhibitor, L-NOARG,(300 μM, NG-nitro-L-Arginine) reduced hypoxic vasodilation. NO-induced vasodilation was reduced in endothelin-contracted preparations. Arterial wall ADMA concentrations were unchanged by hypoxia. Blocking of potassium channels with TEA (tetraethylammounium chloride)(10 μM) inhibited vasodilation to O2 lowering as well as to NO. The superoxide scavenger tiron (10 μM) and the putative NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin (10 μM) leftward shifted concentration-response curves for O2 lowering without changing vasodilation to 1% O2. PEG (polyethylene glycol) catalase (300 u/ml) inhibited H2O2 vasodilation, but failed to affect vasodilation to O2 lowering. Neither did PEG-SOD (polyethylene glycol superoxide dismutase)(70 u/ml) affect vasodilation to O2 lowering. The mitochondrial inhibitors rotenone (1 μM) and antimycin A (1 μM) both inhibited hypoxic vasodilatation.
Conclusion: The present results in porcine coronary arteries suggest NO contributes to hypoxic vasodilation, probably through K channel opening, which is reversed by addition of ET-1 and enhanced by endothelin receptor antagonism. These latter findings suggest that endothelin receptor activation counteracts hypoxic vasodilation.