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      Endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor: where are we now?

      Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology

      Animals, Biological Factors, physiology

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          The endothelium controls vascular tone not only by releasing nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin but also by other pathways causing hyperpolarization of the underlying smooth muscle cells. This characteristic was at the origin of the denomination endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). We know now that this acronym includes different mechanisms. In general, EDHF-mediated responses involve an increase in the intracellular calcium concentration, the opening of calcium-activated potassium channels of small and intermediate conductance and the hyperpolarization of the endothelial cells. This results in an endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization of the smooth muscle cells, which can be evoked by direct electrical coupling through myo-endothelial junctions and/or the accumulation of potassium ions in the intercellular space. Potassium ions hyperpolarize the smooth muscle cells by activating inward rectifying potassium channels and/or Na+/K(+)-ATPase. In some blood vessels, including large and small coronary arteries, the endothelium releases arachidonic acid metabolites derived from cytochrome P450 monooxygenases. The epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EET) generated are not only intracellular messengers but also can diffuse and hyperpolarize the smooth muscle cells by activating large conductance calcium-activated potassium channels. Additionally, the endothelium can produce other factors such as lipoxygenases derivatives or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). These different mechanisms are not necessarily exclusive and can occur simultaneously.

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          Animals, Biological Factors, physiology


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