Objectives: We investigated the effect of suppressing plasma angiotensin II (ANG II) levels on arteriolar relaxation in the hamster cheek pouch. Methods: Arteriolar diameters were measured via television microscopy during short-term (3-6. days) high salt (HS; 4% NaCl) diet and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibition with captopril (100. mg/kg/day). Results: ACE inhibition and/or HS diet eliminated endothelium-dependent arteriolar dilation to acetylcholine, endothelium-independent dilation to the NO donor sodium nitroprusside, the prostacyclin analogs carbacyclin and iloprost, and the KATP channel opener cromakalim; and eliminated arteriolar constriction during KATP channel blockade with glibenclamide. Scavenging of superoxide radicals and low dose ANG II infusion (25ng/kg/min, subcutaneous) reduced oxidant stress and restored arteriolar dilation in arterioles of HS-fed hamsters. Vasoconstriction to topically-applied ANG II was unaffected by HS diet while arteriolar responses to elevation of superfusion solution PO2 were unaffected (5% O2, 10% O2) or reduced (21% O2) by HS diet. Conclusions: These findings indicate that sustained exposure to low levels of circulating ANG II leads to widespread dysfunction in endothelium-dependent and independent vascular relaxation mechanisms in cheek pouch arterioles by increasing vascular oxidant stress, but does not potentiate O2- or ANG II-induced constriction of arterioles in the distal microcirculation of normotensive hamsters.
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