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Flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) of conduit arteries is dependent on an intact endothelium, although the mechanisms are not fully understood. Using high-resolution ultrasound, we examined the role of endothelial mediators in radial artery dilatation in response to transient (short period of reactive hyperemia) and sustained (prolonged period of reactive hyperemia, hand warming, or an incremental infusion of acetylcholine into the distal radial artery) hyperemia. After short episodes of reactive hyperemia, FMD was abolished by local infusion of the nitric oxide synthesis inhibitor N:(G)monomethyl-L-arginine (5.3+/-1.2% versus 0.7+/-0.7%, P:<0.001). In contrast, basal vessel diameter and dilatation after prolonged episodes of reactive hyperemia, hand warming, and distal infusion of acetylcholine were not attenuated by nitric oxide synthesis inhibition. Inhibition of cyclooxygenase or local autonomic nervous system blockade also had no effect on FMD. Patients with hypercholesterolemia exhibited reduced FMD in response to transient hyperemia, but the response to sustained hyperemia was normal. These data suggest heterogeneity of endothelial responses to blood flow that are dependent on the characteristics of the flow stimulus. Dilatation after brief episodes of hyperemia is mediated by release of nitric oxide, whereas dilatation during sustained hyperemia is unaffected by NO synthesis inhibition. Hypercholesterolemia seems to differentially affect these pathways with impairment of the nitric oxide-dependent pathway and preservation of non nitric oxide-mediated dilatation to sustained flow stimuli.


Journal article


Circ Res

Publication Date





145 - 151


Acetylcholine, Adolescent, Adult, Area Under Curve, Aspirin, Autonomic Agents, Blood Flow Velocity, Cyclooxygenase Inhibitors, Electrocardiography, Endothelium, Vascular, Enzyme Inhibitors, Female, Hand, Hot Temperature, Humans, Hypercholesterolemia, Hyperemia, Male, Middle Aged, Nitric Oxide, Radial Artery, Ultrasonography, Vasodilation, Vasodilator Agents, omega-N-Methylarginine