Endothelium-derived endothelin-1

Eric Thorin, David J. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One year after the revelation by Dr. Furchgott in 1980 that the endothelium was obligatory for acetylcholine to relax isolated arteries, it was clearly shown that the endothelium could also promote contraction. In 1988, Dr. Yanagisawa's group identified endothelin-1 (ET-1) as the first endothelium-derived contracting factor. The circulating levels of this short (21-amino acid) peptide were quickly determined in humans, and it was reported that, in most cardiovascular diseases, circulating levels of ET-1 were increased, and ET-1 was then tagged as "a bad guy." The discovery of two receptor subtypes in 1990, ETA and ETB, permitted optimization of the first dual ET-1 receptor antagonist in 1993 by Dr. Clozel's team, who entered clinical development with bosentan, which was offered to patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension in 2001. The revelation of Dr. Furchgott opened a Pandora's box with ET-1 as one of the actors. In this brief review, we will discuss the physiological and pathophysiological role of endothelium-derived ET-1 focusing on the regulation of the vascular tone, and as much as possible in humans. The coronary bed will be used as a running example in this review because it is the most susceptible to endothelial dysfunction, but references to the cerebral and renal circulation will also be made. Many of the cardiovascular complications associated with aging and cardiovascular risk factors are initially attributable, at least in part, to endothelial dysfunction, particularly dysregulation of the vascular function associated with an imbalance in the close interdependence of nitric oxide and ET-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-958
Number of pages8
JournalPflügers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


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