S-nitrosothiols as vasodilators: Implications regarding tolerance to nitric oxide-containing vasodilators

P. J. Henry, O. H. Drummer, J. D. Horowitz

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The formation of an S-nitrosothiol compound, S-nitroso-N-acetylcysteine (SNAC) has recently been proposed to mediate the augmentation of the anti-aggregatory and haemodynamic effects of glyceryl trinitrate observed in the presence of N-acetylcysteine. This study investigated the effects on an isolated coronary artery preparation of acute and prolonged exposure to S-nitrosothiol compounds and nitric oxide (NO). Single doses of NO and of the S-nitrosothiol compounds, SNAC and S-nitroso-N-acetyl-penicillamine (SNAP), induced rapid, but transient, relaxations in U46619-contracted bovine isolated coronary artery rings. Peak relaxation responses to SNAP and NO were attenuated in the presence of N-acetylcysteine, cysteine, ascorbic acid and methylene blue. The duration of the relaxation responses to SNAC was two to three times longer than those to SNAP and NO. In the presence of N-acetylcysteine (but not cysteine, ascorbic acid or methylene blue) the duration of the relaxation responses to SNAP and NO (but not to SNAC) was markedly increased. H.p.l.c. assay confirmed that, in the presence of N-acetylcysteine, SNAP and, to a lesser degree, NO were converted to the relatively more stable and longer acting vasodilator, SNAC. When compared to control rings, coronary artery rings superfused with glyceryl trinitrate were subsequently markedly less responsive to the vasodilator actions of glyceryl trinitrate, whereas responsiveness to SNAC or NO was only marginally reduced. On the other hand, coronary artery rings superfused with SNAC or NO were subsequently less responsive to glyceryl trinitrate, SNAC and NO. Thus prolonged vascular exposure to SNAC or NO induced a form of tolerance different from that induced with glyceryl trinitrate and which is possibly associated with impaired guanylate cyclase activity. Coronary artery rings superfused with NO were markedly less responsive to glycryl trinitrate and NO, whereas responses to the endothelium-dependent vasodilator A23187 and to theophylline were not significantly attenuated. It is concluded that formation of the more stable vasodilator SNAC occurs on incubation of N-acetylcysteine with SNAP or NO. While coronary artery responsiveness to SNAC and NO is virtually unchanged in the presence of glyceryl trinitrate-induced tolerance, after prolonged exposure to SNAC or NO tolerance may develop to these vasodilators with cross-tolerance to glyceryl trinitrate but not A23187. Thus, formation of therapeutic utilization of SNAC may acutely circumvent the problem of glyceryl trinitrate-induced tolerance but, during prolonged vascular exposure to SNAC, attenuation of vascular responsiveness may occur to a wide range of vasodilators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-766
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes

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