Date: 27 Nov 2012

Evolving Pathophysiological Perspectives in Endothelial Dysfunction

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Cardiovascular disease is responsible for the majority of morbidity and mortality in the Western world. Most forms of cardiovascular disease involve atherosclerotic vascular changes in the coronary, cerebral, renal and peripheral circulation. Hence, the understanding of vascular dysfunction and its role in the development of target organ damage is of great clinical interest.

Furchgott and Zawadzki’s[1] seminal discovery 20 years ago that the endothelium plays an obligatory role in vascular relaxation not only revolutionised cardiovascular physiology, but also stimulated an evolving understanding of the development of cardiovascular disease. Soon after the first studies showing the importance of the endothelium were published, substantial evidence demonstrated that the endothelium-dependent responses were impaired in animal models and in patients with cardiovascular disease. The working hypothesis derived from these observations is that endothelial cell dysfunction plays a key role in th