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Keywords:

  • endothelin;
  • lithium;
  • cyclooxygenase inhibitors

SYNOPSIS

Endothelins are a recently discovered group of potent vasoconstrictor peptides synthesized by endothelial cells and other tissues in various species, which seem to participate in the regulation of vascular tonus. Abnormalities in vasoactivity in the head may be an important event in headache pathophysiology, although the mechanisms responsible for such constrictions and/or dilations are not known. The endothelium and its constrictor peptide, endothelin, may play a key role in such mechanisms. Of the various drugs used in the treatment of headache, lithium is an accepted treatment for cluster headache, and indomethacin is the drug of choice for the associated condition chronic paroxysmal hemicrania. The mechanism of action of these drugs in these headaches is not known. Due to the possible involvement of endothelin in headache disorders, the objective of this study was to verify the effects of lithium and cyclooxygenase inhibitors (indomethacin, acetylsalicylic acid and naproxen) on endothelin-1 (ET-1)-induced contractions in isolated human temporal arteries and porcine ophthalmic arteries. It was found that all drugs increased the (ET-1)-induced contractions in human temporal arteries. Conversely, there were no significant changes induced by the drugs in porcine ophthalmic arteries. These results are consistent with the variation of activity often seen in different vascular beds and between species. The potential importance of such reactions for the understanding of vascular changes putatively involved in headache development and treatment is discussed.