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Keywords:

  • Coronary circulation;
  • CYP450 epoxygenase;
  • EDHF;
  • endothelium;
  • epoxyeicosatrienoic acid;
  • soluble epoxide hydrolase

Abstract

The importance of endothelium-derived nitric oxide in coronary vascular regulation is well-established and the loss of this vasodilator compound is associated with endothelial dysfunction, tissue hypoperfusion and atherosclerosis. Numerous studies indicate that the endothelium produces another class of compounds, the epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs), which may partially compensate for the loss of nitric oxide in cardiovascular disease. The EETs are endogenous lipids which are derived through the metabolism of arachidonic acid by cytochrome P450 epoxygenase enzymes. Also, EETs hyperpolarize vascular smooth muscle and induce dilation of coronary arteries and arterioles, and therefore may be endogenous mediators of coronary vasomotor tone and myocardial perfusion. In addition, EETs have been shown to inhibit vascular smooth muscle migration, decrease inflammation, inhibit platelet aggregation and decrease adhesion molecule expression, therefore representing an endogenous protective mechanism against atherosclerosis. Endogenous EETs are degraded to less active dihydroxyeicosatrienoic acids by soluble epoxide hydrolase. Pharmacological inhibition of soluble epoxide hydrolase has received considerable attention as a potential approach to enhance EET-mediated vascular protection, and several compounds have appeared promising in recent animal studies. The present review discusses the emerging role of EETs in coronary vascular function, as well as recent advancements in the development of pharmacological agents to enhance EET bioavailability.