Alveolar hypoxia causes pulmonary vasoconstriction; we investigated whether hypoxia could also impair pulmonary vasodilation. We found in the isolated perfused rat lung a delay in vasodilation following agonist-induced vasoconstriction. The delay was not due to erythrocyte or plasma factors, or to alterations in base-line lung perfusion pressure. Pretreating lungs with arachidonic acid abolished hypoxic vasoconstriction, but did not influence the hypoxia-induced impairment of vasodilation after angiotensin II, bradykinin, or serotonin pressor responses. Progressive slowing of vasodilation followed angiotensin II-induced constriction as the lung oxygen tension fell progressively below 60 Torr. KCl, which is not metabolized by the lung, caused vasoconstriction; the subsequent vasodilation time was delayed during hypoxia. However, catecholamine depletion in the lungs abolished this hypoxic vasodilation delay after KCl-induced vasoconstriction. In lungs from high altitude rats, the hypoxia-induced vasodilation impairment after an angiotensin II pressor response was markedly less than it was in lungs from low altitude rats. We conclude from these studies that (a) hypoxia impairs vasodilation of rat lung vessels following constriction induced by angiotensin II, serotonin, bradykinin, or KCl, (b) hypoxia slows vasodilation following KCl-induced vasoconstriction probably by altering lung handling of norepinephrine, (c) the effect of hypoxia on vasodilation is not dependent on its constricting effect on lung vessels, (d) high altitude acclimation moderates the effect of acute hypoxia on vasodilation, and (e) the hypoxic impairment of vasodilation is possibly the result of an altered rate of dissociation of agonists from their membrane receptors on the vascular smooth muscle.


Norbert F. Voelkel, Ivan F. McMurtry, John T. Reeves


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