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Role of Endothelin in Uteroplacental Circulation and Fetal Vascular Function

[ Vol. 11 , Issue. 5 ]


Alexandra Paradis and Lubo Zhang   Pages 594 - 605 ( 12 )


Endothelins are 21-amino acid peptides involved in vascular homeostasis. Three types of peptide have been identified, with endothelin-1 (ET-1) being the most potent vasoconstrictor currently known. Two endothelin receptor subtypes are found in various tissues, including the brain, heart, blood vessel, lung, and placenta. The ETA-receptor is associated with vasoconstriction in vascular smooth muscle. Conversely, the ETB-receptor can elicit a vasoconstrictor effect in vascular smooth muscle and a vasodilator effect via its action in endothelial cells. Both receptors play a key role in maintaining circulatory homeostasis and vascular function. Changes in ET-1 expression are found in various disease states, and overexpression of ET-1 is observed in hypertension and preeclampsia in pregnancy. Placental localization of ET-1 implies a key role in regulating the uteroplacental circulation. Additionally, ET-1 is important in the fetal circulation and is involved in the pulmonary circulation and closure of the ductus arteriosus after birth, as well as fetal growth constriction in utero. ET receptor antagonists and nitric oxide donors may provide therapeutic potential in treating conditions associated with overexpression of ET and hypertension.


Endothelin-1, placenta, fetal circulation, preeclampsia, hypertension.


Center for Perinatal Biology, Division of Pharmacology, Department of Basic Sciences, Loma Linda University, School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA.

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