Role of CO in attenuated vasoconstrictor reactivity of mesenteric resistance arteries after chronic hypoxia

Rayna J. Gonzales, Benjimen R. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Chronic hypoxia (CH) is associated with a persistent reduction in systemic vasoconstrictor reactivity. Experiments on aortic ring segments isolated from CH rats suggest that enhanced vascular expression of heme oxygenase (HO) and resultant production of the vasodilator carbon monoxide (CO) may underlie this attenuated vasoreactivity after hypoxia. Similar to the aorta, small arteries from CH rats exhibit blunted reactivity; however, the regulatory role of CO in the resistance vasculature has not been established. Therefore, we examined the significance of HO activity on responsiveness to phenylephrine (PE) in the mesenteric circulation of control and CH rats. To document that the mesenteric bed demonstrates reduced reactivity after CH, we determined the vasoconstrictor responses of conscious, chronically instrumented male Sprague-Dawley rats to PE under control conditions and then immediately after exposure to 48 h CH (0.5 atm). All rats showed reduced mesenteric vasoconstriction to PE after CH. To examine the role of CO in reduced reactivity, small mesenteric arteries (100-200 μm intraluminal diameter) from control and 48-h CH rats were isolated and mounted on glass cannulas, pressurized to 60 mmHg and superfused with increasing concentrations of PE under normoxic conditions. Similar to the intact circulation, vessels from CH rats exhibited reduced vasoconstrictor sensitivity to PE compared with controls that persisted in the presence of nitric oxide synthase inhibition. The HO inhibitor, zinc protoporphyrin IX (5 μM) enhanced reactivity only in CH vessels. Additionally, a range of concentrations of the HO substrate heme-L-lysinate caused vasodilation in CH vessels but not in controls. Thus we conclude that CO contributes a significant vasodilator influence in resistance vessels after CH that may account for diminished vasoconstrictor responsiveness under these conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H30-H37
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1 51-1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Heme oxygenase
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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