Chronic hypertension produced by infusion of endothelin in rats.
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Endothelin, a potent vasoconstrictor peptide synthesized by the vascular smooth muscle endothelium, was chronically infused into male Sprague-Dawley rats to determine whether a long-term increase in circulating endothelin levels would cause a sustained elevation in mean arterial pressure. Rats were catheterized, housed in metabolic cages, and maintained on a fixed 6 meq/day sodium intake throughout the experiment with daily measurements including mean arterial pressure, heart rate, water intake, urine output, urinary sodium excretion, urinary potassium excretion, cardiac output, total peripheral resistance, and stroke volume. Infusion of endothelin-1 (ET-1) at rates of 3, 5, or 7.5 pmol/kg/min for 7 days was associated with significant, sustained, and dose-dependent increases in mean arterial pressure and smaller less consistent elevations in total peripheral resistance. Other parameters were unaffected. Similar results were observed in rats receiving endothelin-3 (ET-3), except that a higher dose of ET-3 was required. These results indicate that elevated blood levels of endothelin could produce a maintained hypertension without sodium or water retention and that the hemodynamic basis for the increased mean arterial pressure is similar to that seen in most other forms of experimental and clinical hypertension.