Hypertension is associated with an endothelial dysfunction characterized by an increased endothelium-dependent contraction and a decreased endothelium-dependent relaxation. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition with cilazapril or captopril can remarkably improve the endothelial function in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). The goal of the present study was to investigate whether ACE inhibitors were acting by decreasing endothelium-dependent contraction or by increasing endothelium-dependent relaxation. Endothelial function was estimated by calculating the ratio of maximal contraction to serotonin on isolated aortic rings with endothelium to maximal contraction on paired rings without endothelium, termed the serotonin ratio. The serotonin ratio was greater than 1 in SHRs, indicating the release of a vasoconstrictor substance by the endothelium. This substance was identified as prostaglandin (PG) H2, because the serotonin ratio was significantly decreased by thromboxane (TX) A2/PGH2 receptor antagonists but not by TXA2 synthetase inhibitors. Two weeks of treatment of SHRs with cilazapril led to a marked decrease in the serotonin ratio, although acute administration of cilazaprilat was without any effect. However, after 2 weeks of treatment, the serotonin ratio still could be lowered further by TXA2/PGH2 receptor antagonists, indicating that cilazapril did not act by inhibition of PGH2 synthesis. In contrast, the effect of a 4-week treatment with cilazapril could be completely reversed by inhibiting the action of endothelium-derived relaxing factor with methylene blue. The same result was found after treatment with captopril. We speculate that ACE inhibitors improve endothelial function in SHRs not by inhibiting the synthesis of PGH2 but by increasing the release or the action of endothelium-derived relaxing factor.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association