The first symposium on “Mechanisms of Vasodilatation,” or MOVD, was organized by Paul M. Vanhoutte and Isidore Leusen in Antwerp 1977. Before the meeting, most available data dealt with “how vascular smooth muscle contracts.” During the MOVD1977 meeting, a group of experts sought to assemble knowledge to answer ONE single question-how is vasodilatation, that is, smooth muscle relaxation, controlled? Apparently, as Paul stated “it is surprising that we still have no completely satisfactory explanation of the vasodilator properties of the oldest group of them, the nitrates.”1
Since then, every 3-4 years, Paul was leading the group gatherings and discussions in the symposia of MOVD around the world, Wilrijk (1980), Sydney (1983), Rochester (1986), Strasbourg (1989), Glasgow (1993), Maastricht (1997), Boston (2001), Wilrijk (2005), Sendai (2009), Zurich (2013), Rochester (2016), and Rotterdam (2019). With time, MOVD became an international specialty meeting inspiring generations of young scientists. The field expanded from neurotransmitters and intracellular mediators of vascular smooth muscle relaxation to the endothelium, especially after the discovery of nitric oxide (NO) as an endothelium-derived relaxing factor or vasodilator. This was reported for the first time in 1986 at MOVD in Rochester, MN, first by Robert F. Furchgott and merely 15 minutes later by Louis J. Ignarro.2 In 1998, they shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Ferid Murad for the discoveries concerning NO as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system. The very first scientific publication on this topic was, however, by another group of participants at MOVD1986.3
Thereafter, endothelium-dependent vasodilatation became a major subject of research in cardiovascular health and disease. Paul M. Vanhoutte was the main researcher and advocate in this area of basic and clinical investigations. His early observations demonstrated that endothelium-dependent vasodilatation was not brought about by a single mechanism,4 and the role of endothelium in vasomotor control was not limited to the production of relaxing factors but included endothelium-derived contractile factor(s).5 Mechanisms that resist the inhibition of endothelium-derived NO became the subject of a series of small-scale dedicated scientific meetings during the nineties and the early years of this millennium. Most of the Endothelium-Dependent Hyperpolarization (EDH) meetings were organized by Paul M. Vanhoutte and Michele Feletou in the beautiful abbey of Vaux de Cernay (France). Now EDH is an essential part integrated within MOVD.
After 44 years, on the day of Paul's 81st birthday, the MOVD symposium comes into its 14th round in Hong Kong. Although the MOVD2021 symposium will be held without Paul's presence, the foundation laid by him has continued and the format of the meeting remains the same.6,7 To honor those who made significant contributions to vasodilatation, 6 lectures named after John T. Shepherd, Robert F. Furchgott, David F. Bohr, Björn Folkow, Paul M. Vanhoutte, and Tudor Griffith will be given. The distinguished nominees of the named lectures were selected by votes from an international panel of established scientists. On many earlier occasions, MOVD was an opportunity to invite key researchers to write their recent findings and concepts about mechanisms of vasodilatations. Recent examples of these proceedings can be found in Acta Physiologica Vol 219, 2015, and Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Vol 127, 2020. Following on this tradition, this issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology contains a number of minireviews summarizing some of the topics presented at MOVD2021.
The coming MOVD2021 symposium covers a wider range of topics related to vasodilatation, including endothelium-dependent smooth muscle regulation, perivascular adipose tissue, vascular aging, novel vasodilators, and cellular heterogeneity of the arterial wall. As highlighted by the review articles of the themed issue, not only color of the adipose tissue surrounding the arteries matters but also various immune mechanisms are involved in modulating vasodilatation, beyond the scope of endothelium. Overall, the spirit and breath of the presentations in MOVD2021 will pass the knowledge and tradition to future generations. The MOVD2021 symposium would not have been realized without the dedication and expertise of Mr Chi Fai Chan, who carried most of the administrative load and designed the first virtual hybrid platform in the history of MOVD. The next MOVD meeting has been planned and will be held in Oxford, under the expert guidance of Christopher Garland, professor of vascular pharmacology, University of Oxford.
1. Vanhoutte PM, Leusen I. Mechanisms of Vasodilatation Satellite Symposium to the 27th International Congress of Physiological Sciences. Basel, Switzerland: S. Karger: Wilrijk; 1977. ISBN: 978-3-8055-2841-2 e-ISBN: 978-3-318-04908-4.
2. Barton M, Cardillo C. Memoriam: Paul M. Vanhoutte. J Physiol. 2019;597:5731–5737.
3. Palmer PM, Ferrige AG, Moncada S. Nitric oxide release accounts for the biological activity of endothelium-derived relaxing factor. Nature. 1987;327:524–526.
4. De Mey JG, Claeys M, Vanhoutte PM. Endothelium-dependent inhibitory effects of acetylcholine, adenosine triphosphate, thrombin and arachidonic acid in the canine femoral artery. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1982;222:166–173.
5. De Mey JG, Vanhoutte PM. Heterogeneous behavior of the canine arterial and venous wall. Importance of the endothelium. Circ Res. 1982;51:439–447.
6. Miller VM, Webb RC, Vanhoutte PM. 12th international symposium for mechanisms of vasodilatation: celebrating the 30th anniversary of the announcement of NO as a vasodilator molecule. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2017;69:245–247.
7. Danser AHJ, Simonsen U. Mechanisms of vasodilatation/endothelium-dependent hyperpolarization (MOVD/EDH) 2019—rotterdam. Neth Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2020;127:55–58.