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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Endothelin receptors in the aetiology and pathophysiology of varicose veins.

INTRODUCTION: varicose veins are tortuous and poorly contractile. Their aetiology remains unclear. Neovascularisation has been suggested as a possible explanation. Endothelins are mitogenic, promoting proliferation and migration of endothelial cells via endothelin-B receptors. We hypothesise that endothelial cells and endothelin receptor density and distribution may play a role in the development of varicosis. METHODS: saphenous vein segments from nine patients with varicose veins were compared to six controls. Slide-mounted sections were incubated in radioactive labelled endothelin-1 and receptor subtype-selective ligands and binding sites assessed using autoradiography. Endothelin-1 and endothelial cells were identified by immunohistochemistry and CD31-positive staining cells counted. RESULTS: radioactive labelled endothelin-1 and endothelin-B receptor binding was reduced in varicose compared to control veins (p=0.04). Endothelin-A receptor binding was diffuse, with no difference in density in both groups (p=0.58). Endothelin-B receptor binding was diffuse with superimposed clusters. Although the density of medial endothelin-B receptor binding was reduced in the varicose group, more clusters were identified in this group compared to controls (p=0.005). CD-31 staining identified these clusters as endothelial cells. CONCLUSION: the reduced endothelin-1 binding and endothelin-B receptor density may be partially responsible for the reduced vasocontractility in varicose veins. We speculate that the increase in endothelin-B receptor binding CD31-positive endothelial cells in varicose veins may potentially stimulate mitogenesis and migration, leading to new vessel formation.[1]


  1. Endothelin receptors in the aetiology and pathophysiology of varicose veins. Agu, O., Hamilton, G., Baker, D.M., Dashwood, M.R. European journal of vascular and endovascular surgery : the official journal of the European Society for Vascular Surgery. (2002) [Pubmed]
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