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 Regulation of Vasomotor Tone and Vasospasm

General considerations

  • Regulation of vasomotor tone (including the role of mechanical forces, blood elements, vasoactive substances and ions).
  • Definition of vasospasm and its role in atherogenesis.
  • Experimental models for the study of blood vessel contractile responses (including the muscle bath, ex vivo perfusion devices, angiography, cell culture and fresh vascular smooth muscle cells).


  • Molecular mechanisms of vasoconstriction.
  • Mediators of vascular smooth muscle contraction.


  • Molecular mechanisms of vasorelaxation.
  • Mediators of vascular smooth muscle relaxation.


Fields CE, Makhoul RG. Vasomotor tone and the role of nitric oxide. Semin Vasc Surg 1998;11:181-192.

This review describes the physiology and biochemistry of NO as it relates to the control of vasomotor tone. Methods of measuring NO in basic science and clinical settings are outlined, and the derangements of endothelial NO production and release (endothelial dysfunction) in pathophysiologic and disease states are discussed. Potential therapies aimed at preserving endothelial function and augmenting NO production are also reviewed.

De Artinano AA, Gonzalez VL. Endothelial dysfunction and hypertensive vasoconstriction. Pharmacol Res 1999;40:113-124.

This review article discusses several of the mechanisms which may undergo change and substantiate the endothelial dysfunction which accompanies experimental arterial hypertension and arterial hypertension in humans. The synthesis and effect of nitric oxide and endothelin as well as the production of free radicals and vasoconstrictor peroxides is also analyzed.

Gutstein WH. Vasospasm, vascular injury, and atherogenesis: a perspective. Hum Pathol 1999;30:365-371.

Based on early work by the author and a selective review of the literature, evidence is presented to show how a common cardiovascular event, vasospasm, may be one of the factors responsible for vessel wall injury, producing a substantial arteriopathy in the very vessel in which it occurs.

Woodman OL. Modulation of vasoconstriction by endothelium-derived nitric oxide: the influence of vascular disease. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 1995;22:585-593.

The endothelium makes a significant contribution to the regulation of vascular tone through the release of potent vasodilator agents such as nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin (PGI2) as well as vasoconstrictor compounds such as endothelin. This article describes the mechanisms underlying these functions and their impact on vascular disease.

Frelin C. Mechanisms of vasoconstriction. Am Heart J 1991;121:958-960.

The contractility of vascular smooth muscle cells is controlled in a complex manner by both extracellular and intracellular messages. This review describes briefly each step of these signalling pathways which are possible sites for potential therapeutic interventions.

Posted June 2010