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

Depression of endothelium-dependent relaxation in aorta from rats with Brugia pahangi lymphatic filariasis.

A role for altered endothelial cell function is emerging in the pathogenesis of disease. We have previously demonstrated that Dirofilaria immitis, the canine heartworm, depresses endothelium-dependent responses and alters the mechanism of relaxation in the in vivo femoral artery of infected dogs. Exposure of rat aorta to the parasite or parasite-conditioned medium selectively depresses endothelium-dependent relaxation. D. immitis is closely related to the major human filarial pathogens. This study was designed to examine the effect of chronic infection with the filarial nematode Brugia pahangi on endothelium-mediated responses of the rat aorta in vitro. We tested the hypothesis that endothelium-dependent responses are depressed in the aorta from rats infected with B. pahangi. Rings of thoracic and abdominal aorta were suspended in muscle baths for measurement of isometric tension. Dose-response relations to norepinephrine, endothelium-dependent dilators (acetylcholine, histamine, and A23187), and nitroglycerin were done. In some experiments, inhibitors of cyclooxygenase (indomethacin and aspirin), guanylate cyclase (methylene blue), and nitric oxide formation (N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester; L-NOARG) were used. No differences in vascular reactivity were detected in the thoracic aorta. In contrast, endothelium-dependent responses in abdominal aorta of Brugia-infected rats were significantly depressed when compared with control aorta from noninfected rats. Acetylcholine relaxation was further depressed by indomethacin and aspirin. After L-NOARG, acetylcholine relaxation in control abdominal aorta was completely abolished; however, in abdominal aorta of Brugia-infected rats, acetylcholine still caused relaxation. Methylene blue inhibited acetylcholine relaxation in both control and Brugia-infected abdominal aorta; however, relaxation in Brugia-infected aorta was significantly greater than control. This study demonstrates that endothelium-dependent relaxation can be altered by chronic experimental filarial infection in the absence of direct contact between the blood vessel and the parasite. The mechanism of relaxation in the Brugia-infected abdominal aorta appears to be altered when compared with control, suggesting that parasites are capable of modulating vascular reactivity by inducing changes in endothelial cell behavior. The mechanism may involve parasite-induced local inflammation or alterations in endothelial cell metabolism. Understanding how chronic experimental filarial infection alters vascular reactivity may enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis of human filariasis.[1]


  1. Depression of endothelium-dependent relaxation in aorta from rats with Brugia pahangi lymphatic filariasis. Kaiser, L., Tithof, P.K., Lamb, V.L., Williams, J.F. Circ. Res. (1991) [Pubmed]
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