The Discovery and General Properties of the Endothelins

  • Winifred G. Nayler


The “endothelins” are potent vasoconstrictors (Yanagisawa et al. 1988 a; Yanagisawa and Masaki 1989a, b). Although discovered only a few years ago, and then almost by chance, they are now providing a major challenge to workers in the field, particularly with respect to their site of production, mode of action, and involvement in physiological and pathological processes (Table 1.1). Some very basic questions are being asked, including whether these substances, which are peptides, are involved in the aetiology of hypertension, coronary and cerebral vasospasm, asthma, myocardial ischaemia, renal artery stenosis or even atherosclerosis. Questions are also being raised as to whether they contribute to the maintenance of basal homeostasis in the circulation, whether some of them function as neuropeptides, or whether they are nothing more than an evolutionary “hangover” — a question which has been raised because the toxins which make the venom of the burrowing asp so deadly have a chemistry and mode of action which is remarkably similar to that of the endothelins (Chapter 4). This similarity alone, however, does not provide sufficient grounds for assuming that the endothelins are simply an evolutionary remnant from the remote past, when the possession of such substances would have provided a useful means of overpowering prey, of hastening wound repair, or limiting haemorrhage.


Renal Artery Stenosis Cerebral Vasospasm Aortic Endothelial Cell Hydrophobic Tail Bovine Aortic Endothelial Cell 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winifred G. Nayler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medicine Austin and Repatriation HospitalThe University of MelbourneHeidelbergAustralia

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