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Characterization Of Endothelin Receptors In The Cerebral Vasculature And Their Lack Of Effect On Spreading Depression

Peter J. Goadsby, Mikael Adner, Lars Edvinsson

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The changes in cerebral blood flow that accompany spreading depression are well-described, as are parallel changes in cellular activity, with a wave of hyperemia followed by a prolonged oligemic phase. In this study, a cat model of the CBF changes associated with spreading depression and in vitro pharmacology were used to determine if there is a role for the powerful peptide vasoconstrictor endothelin in this response. For the pharmacological studies, the middle cerebral artery was harvested from cats postmortem. For the physiological studies, cats were anesthetized with halothane induction and α-chloralose (60 mg/kg, intraperitoneal loading; 20 mg/kg i.v. 2-h maintenance). CBF was monitored continuously in the parietal cortex using laser Doppler flowmetry (CBFLDF) after exposure of the dura mater. The in vitro work demonstrated that endothelin-1 (ET-1) mediates a strong and potent contraction of cerebral vessels. Both the selective ETA receptor antagonist FR139317 and the combined ETA and ETB receptor antagonist Bosentan caused a rightward shift of the concentration-response curve without attenuation of the maximum effect. The calculated pA2 values were 6.28 and 6.90, respectively. The slope did not differ from unity, suggesting that the ET-1-mediated contraction is evoked by a single population of ETA receptors, which were effectively antagonized by these compounds. Spreading depression was induced with a needle stick injury to the cortex. Local administration of the endothelin antagonists FR139317 (10 μ M) and Bosentan (10 μ M) did not affect resting blood flow in the cortex. Induction of spreading depression following local administration of FR139317 and Bosentan resulted in responses no different from those in control cortex. These data demonstrate that endothelin does not play a significant role in the vasoconstrictor portion of the CBF change seen in spreading depression, nor does it affect resting flow. Since it is widely held that spreading depression, or a very similar mechanism, underlies the aura phase of migraine, it may be suggested from these studies that endothelin antagonists are unlikely to be useful in migraine.