Endothelin in coronary endothelial dysfunction and early atherosclerosis in humans

Amir Lerman, David R. Holmes, Malcolm R. Bell, Kirk N. Garratt, Rick A. Nishimura, John C. Burnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

303 Scopus citations


Background: The endothelium modulates vascular tone through release of vasodilating substances, such as endothelium-derived relaxing factors, and vasoconstricting substances, such as endothelin. Endothelin concentrations are elevated in humans with atherosclerosis and in hypercholesterolemic pigs. Furthermore, the endothelium-dependent vasodilator acetylcholine increases endothelin in hypercholesterolemia in association with coronary vasoconstriction. The present study was designed to test the hypotheses that coronary endothelial dysfunction in humans is characterized by enhanced coronary and circulating endothelin and that the vasoconstriction associated with acetylcholine results in further release of coronary endothelin. Methods and Results: Coronary and circulating endothelin concentrations were measured at baseline and during intracoronary acetylcholine administration in 20 patients undergoing diagnostic coronary angiography. Patients were divided into two groups on the basis of their response to intracoronary acetylcholine. Group 1 (n = 7) demonstrated a normal vasodilatory response, but group 2 (n = 13) demonstrated coronary vasoconstriction. Baseline coronary and circulating endothelin concentrations (as determined by coronary sinus and femoral artery measurements, respectively) were higher in patients who responded to acetylcholine with coronary vasoconstriction (group 2) than in group 1 patients (coronary sinus, 15.9±1.0 pg/mL versus 7.1 ± 1.0 pg/mL; femoral, 14.1±0.9 pg/mL versus 6.8±1.0 pg/mL, respectively; P<.01). In response to intracoronary acetylcholine, a further increase in coronary endothelin was observed only in group 2; this increase correlated with changes in coronary artery diameter. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that endothelin immunoreactivity is enhanced in the coronary and systemic circulation in humans with coronary endothelial dysfunction. Moreover, acetylcholine further increased coronary endothelin concentration in patients with coronary endothelial dysfunction and was associated with coronary vasoconstriction. These observations strongly support a role for endothelin as an early participant in and marker for coronary endothelial dysfunction in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2426-2431
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 1995


  • acetylcholine
  • endothelin
  • endothelium
  • guanosine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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