There is accumulating evidence that makes the link between the circadian variation in blood pressure and circadian variations in vascular contraction. The importance of vascular endothelium-derived redox-active and redox-derived species in the signalling pathways involved in controlling vascular smooth muscle contraction are well known, and when linked to the circadian variations in the processes involved in generating these species, suggests a cellular mechanism for the circadian variations in blood pressure that links directly to the peripheral circadian clock. Relaxation of vascular smooth muscle cells involves endothelial-derived relaxing factor (EDRF) which is nitric oxide (NO) produced by endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), and endothelial-derived hyperpolarising factor (EDHF) which includes hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) produced by NADPH oxidase (Nox). Both of these enzymes appear to be under the direct control of the circadian clock mechanism in the endothelial cells, and disruption to the clock results in endothelial and vascular dysfunction.
In this review, we focus on EDRF and EDHF and summarise the recent findings on the influence of the peripheral circadian clock mechanism on processes involved in generating the redox species involved and how this influences vascular contractility, which may account for some of the circadian variations in blood pressure and peripheral resistance. Moreover, the direct link between the peripheral circadian clock and redox-signalling pathways in the vasculature, has a bearing on vascular endothelial dysfunction in disease and aging, which are both known to lead to dysfunction of the circadian clock.