The endothelium modulates coronary vascular tone by the release of endothelium-derived relaxing or contracting substances. The endothelium-derived relaxing factor has been identified as nitric oxide synthesized in endothelial cells from l-arginine. The endothelium can release other relaxing substances such as prostacyclin and a hyperpolarizing factor. Endothelin-1 is a potent vasoconstrictor peptide formed by endothelial cells, and is likely to be the physiologic antagonist of endothelium-derived relaxing factor. Other putative contracting factors include superoxide anions and products of arachidonic acid metabolism. Endothelium-derived relaxing factor is released spontaneously and in response to flow, platelet-derived products (that is, serotonin, thrombin and adenosine diphosphate) and certain autacoids (that is, acetylcholine, bradykinin, histamine, substance P, vasopressin, alpha-adrenergic agonists). A considerable heterogeneity of responses exists among vessels of different size from different anatomic origin and different species. Hypercholesterolemia, atherosclerosis, hypertension and myocardial ischemia or reperfusion, or both, impair endothelium-dependent relaxation. Under normal conditions, endothelium-derived relaxing factor appears to dominate the control of vascular tone of large and small coronary vessels, whereas in disease states, endothelium-derived contracting factors are released. Impairments of endothelial function may be important in the development of various forms of cardiovascular disease. © 1990.
Lüscher, T. F., Richard, V., Tschudi, M., Yang, Z., & Boulanger, C. (1990). Endothelial control of vascular tone in large and small coronary arteries. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 15(3), 519–527. https://doi.org/10.1016/0735-1097(90)90619-Z