Role of Endothelium in the Action of Isoflurane on Vascular Smooth Muscle of Isolated Mesenteric Resistance Arteries

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It is believed that isoflurane decreases blood pressure predominantly by decreasing systemic vascular resistance with modest myocardial depression. Nevertheless, little information is available regarding the direct action of isoflurane on systemic resistance arteries.


With use of the isometric force recording method, the action of isoflurane on contractile response to norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that plays a central role in sympathetic maintenance of vascular tone in vivo, was investigated in isolated rat small mesenteric arteries.


In the endothelium-intact strips, the norepinephrine response was initially enhanced after application of isoflurane (2–5%), but it was subsequently almost normalized to the control level during exposure to isoflurane. However, the norepinephrine response was notably inhibited after washout of isoflurane. In the endothelium-denuded strips, the norepinephrine response was gradually inhibited during exposure to isoflurane (≥ 3%), and the inhibition was prolonged after washout of isoflurane. The isoflurane-induced enhancement of norepinephrine response was still observed after inhibitions of the nitric oxide, endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor, cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways, or after blockade of endothelin-1, angiotensin-II, and serotonin receptors; however, it was prevented by superoxide dismutase.


In isolated mesenteric resistance artery, the action of isoflurane on contractile response to norepinephrine consists of two distinct components: an endothelium-dependent enhancing component and an endothelium-independent inhibitory component. During exposure to isoflurane, the former counteracted the latter, preventing the norepinephrine response from being strongly inhibited. However, only the endothelium-independent component persists after washout of isoflurane, causing prolonged inhibition of the norepinephrine response. Superoxide anions may be involved in the enhanced response to norepinephrine.

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