Comparison of the hemodynamic effects of nitric oxide and endothelium-dependent vasodilators in intact lungs

S. L. Archer, K. Rist, D. P. Nelson, E. G. DeMaster, N. Cowan, E. K. Weir

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74 Scopus citations


The effects of endothelium-dependent vasodilation on pulmonary vascular hemodynamics were evaluated in a variety of in vivo and in vitro models to determine 1) the comparability of the hemodynamic effects of acetylcholine (ACh), bradykinin (BK), nitric oxide (NO), and 8-bromo-guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP), 2) whether methylene blue is a useful inhibitor of endothelium-dependent relaxing factor (EDRF) activity in vivo, and 3) the effect of monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension on the responsiveness of the pulmonary vasculature to ACh. In isolated rat lungs, which were preconstricted with hypoxia, ACh, BK, NO, and 8-bromo-cGMP caused pulmonary vasodilation, which was not inhibited by maximum tolerable doses of methylene blue. Methylene blue did not inhibit EDRF activity in any model, despite causing increased pulmonary vascular tone and responsiveness to various constrictor agents. There were significant differences in the hemodynamic characteristics of ACh, BK, and NO. In the isolated lung, BK and NO caused transient decreases of hypoxic vasoconstriction, whereas ACh caused more prolonged vasodilation. Pretreatment of these lungs with NO did not significantly inhibit ACh-induced vasodilation but caused BK to produce vasoconstriction. Tachyphylaxis, which was agonist specific, developed with repeated administration of ACh or BK but not NO. Tachyphylaxis probably resulted from inhibition of the endothelium-dependent vasodilation pathway proximal to NO synthesis, because it could be overcome by exogenous NO. Pretreatment with 8-bromo-cGMP decreased hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction and, even when the hypoxic pressor response had largely recovered, subsequent doses of ACh and NO failed to cause vasodilation, although BK produced vasoconstriction. These findings are compatible with the existence of feedback inhibition of the endothelium-dependent relaxation by elevation of cGMP levels. Responsiveness to ACh was retained in lungs with severe monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension. Many of these findings would not have been predicted based on in vitro studies and illustrate the importance for expanding studies of EDRF to in vivo and ex vivo models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-747
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990


  • acetylcholine
  • bradykinin
  • methylene blue
  • rats


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