Depression of contractile responses in rat aorta by spontaneously released endothelium-derived relaxing factor.
Removal of endothelial cells on rings of rat aorta increased the sensitivity to the selective alpha-1 adrenoceptor agonist phenylephrine, to the nonselective alpha adrenoceptor agonist norepinephrine and to the selective alpha-2 adrenoceptor agonist clonidine. In the case of the first two, which are strong agonists for the alpha-1 adrenoceptor-mediating contraction, removal of endothelium increased sensitivity 4- and 6-fold at the EC30 level, but produced little or no increase in maximum. In the case of clonidine, a partial agonist for the alpha-1 adrenoceptor, which gave only about 15% of the maximum given by phenylephrine on endothelium-containing rings, removal of the endothelium not only shifted the curve to the left but also increased the maximum to about 50% of that given by phenylephrine. The depression of sensitivity to these agonists in rings with endothelium appeared to be due to the vasodepressor action of endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF), as hemoglobin, a specific blocking agent of EDRF, abolished this depression. It is unlikely that the endothelium-dependent depression was due to stimulation of release of EDRF, because clonidine did not produce endothelium-dependent relaxation in precontracted rings even when its contractile action was blocked by the alpha-1 adrenoceptor antagonist prazosin. Further evidence against alpha adrenoceptor agents stimulating release of EDRF was that neither phenylephrine nor clonidine induced a rise in cyclic GMP in aortic rings, whereas acetylcholine, which does release EDRF, caused a large rise in cyclic GMP content. The possibility that the muscle cells of intact rat aortic rings were under the tonic influence of released EDRF was supported by the finding that, in the absence of any contractile agent, hemoglobin induced a fall in the basal level of cyclic GMP in endothelium-containing rings. Also consistent with EDRF being released spontaneously was the finding that contraction induced by 5-hydroxytryptamine, like that by alpha-adrenergic agonists, was also depressed in endothelium-containing rings of aorta. When the efficacy of phenylephrine as an alpha-1 agonist was reduced to about the initial efficacy of clonidine by irreversible inactivation of a very large fraction of alpha-1 adrenoceptors of the smooth muscle cells by pretreatment with dibenamine, the concentration-contraction curves for phenylephrine for both endothelium-containing rings and for endothelium-denuded rings now became very similar to the corresponding curves obtained for clonidine before receptor inactivation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)