Prostaglandins and the Control of Muscle Tone in the Ductus Arteriosus
For many years it was assumed that the patency of the ductus arteriosus in the foetus is a passive state determined by the haemodynamic balance of the pulmonary and systemic circulations rather than by the action of the smooth muscle in the vessel wall (for a review, see ref. 1). As a result, research focussed upon the events occurring during the immediate postnatal period when the vessel constricts in response to the physiological elevation in blood oxygen tension. The mechanism of the contractile action of oxygen has been the subject of extensive investigation. Several authors (see ref. 1) speculated that oxygen does not act on smooth muscle directly but through the formation of, or the sensitization to, a vasoactive agent. Many different compounds — i.e., acetylcholine, norepinephrine, histamine, bradykinin — were studied, but none of them turned out to be suited to this role (2 – 4). The work of Fay (this volume) represents an original approach to this problem and his findings, while not excluding the occurrence in the tissue of a constrictor agent functionally linked to oxygen, prove that oxygen action is exerted upon cytochrome-dependent oxidative processes.
KeywordsSmooth Muscle Tone Functional Closure Blood Oxygen Tension Physiological Elevation Foetal Ductus Arteriosus
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