Summary: Nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in the regulation of coronary vascular resistance. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the role of NO in the regulation of coronary vascular resistance in isolated hearts from normo- and hypertensive rats, which served as a model for arterial hypertension and hypertensive heart disease. Isolated hearts from normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) were perfused at constant flow, whereas the release of NO into the coronary circulation was measured simultaneously by the oxyhemoglobin technique. Bradykinin, an endothelium-dependent vasodilator, concentration-dependently decreased the coronary perfusion pressure in SHRs by 47 +/- 3% and in WKY rats by 35 +/- 6%. In parallel, the basal NO release increased in both groups, maximally by 154 and 118 pmol/min in SHRs and WKY rats, respectively. Amounts of released NO were sufficient to account for the bradykinin-induced coronary vasodilation. These data indicate that coronary resistance vessels in hearts from hypertensive compared to normotensive rats exhibit a higher sensitivity to the endothelium-dependent vasodilator bradykinin, paralleled by a higher release of NO into the coronary circulation. An enhanced endothelial NO synthesis within the coronary circulation may represent a compensatory mechanism aimed at counterregulating distinct changes in vascular reactivity occurring in arterial hypertension.
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