Endothelin has biological actions at pathophysiological concentrations

Amir Lerman, Fredric L. Hildebrand, Lawrence L. Aarhus, John C. Burnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


Background. Endothelin is an endothelium-derived peptide that produces sustained contraction of arterial and venous smooth muscle in vitro. Several studies have established endothelin as a systemic, renal, and coronary vasoconstrictor in vivo at pharmacological concentrations. Such concentrations of endothelin were antinatriuretic in association with activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Recent studies have demonstrated that endothelin is present in the plasma and that its plasma concentrations are increased in various pathological states associated with systemic and renal vasoconstriction. To date, it remains unclear if such increases in circulating endothelin are associated with biological activity. Thus, the objective of this study was to determine the biological action of endothelin on cardiorenal and endocrine function through administration of exogenous endothelin, which achieves plasma concentrations that have been reported in various pathophysiological conditions. Methods and Results. Experiments were conducted in two groups of anesthetized dogs. In group 1, endothelin-1 was infused intravenously at 2.5 ng/kg/ml (n=6), which produced a doubling of circulating concentrations. Group 2 (n=8) received saline vehicle to serve as a time control. The current studies demonstrate that a twofold increase in plasma endothelin concentrations did not affect mean blood pressure or coronary blood flow. Heart rate and cardiac output decreased in association with increased renal and systemic vascular resistances and antinatriuresis. Conclusions. The present studies demonstrate that endothelin at pathophysiological plasma concentrations produced by exogenous endothelin has biological action. These studies support a functional role for endogenous endothelin as a potentially pathophysiological vasoconstrictor peptide hormone in the regulation of cardiovascular, renal, and endocrine function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1808-1814
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1991


  • Endothelin
  • Renal blood flow
  • Vasoconstrictor agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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