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Diesel exhaust inhalation impairs vascular function, and, although the underlying mechanism remains unclear, endothelin (ET) 1 and NO are potential mediators. The aim of this study was to identify whether diesel exhaust inhalation affects the vascular actions of ET-1 in humans. In a randomized, double-blind crossover study, 13 healthy male volunteers were exposed to either filtered air or dilute diesel exhaust (331+/-13 microg/m(3)). Plasma concentrations of ET-1 and big-ET-1 were determined at baseline and throughout the 24-hour study period. Bilateral forearm blood flow was measured 2 hours after the exposure during infusion of either ET-1 (5 pmol/min) or the ET(A) receptor antagonist, BQ-123 (10 nmol/min) alone and in combination with the ET(B) receptor antagonist, BQ-788 (1 nmol/min). Diesel exhaust exposure had no effect on plasma ET-1 and big-ET-1 concentrations (P>0.05 for both) or 24-hour mean blood pressure or heart rate (P>0.05 for all). ET-1 infusion increased plasma ET-1 concentrations by 58% (P<0.01) but caused vasoconstriction only after diesel exhaust exposure (-17% versus 2% after air; P<0.001). In contrast, diesel exhaust exposure reduced vasodilatation to isolated BQ-123 infusion (20% versus 59% after air; P<0.001) but had no effect on vasodilatation to combined BQ-123 and BQ-788 administration (P>0.05). Diesel exhaust inhalation increases vascular sensitivity to ET-1 and reduces vasodilatation to ET(A) receptor antagonism despite unchanged plasma ET-1 concentrations. Given the tonic interaction between the ET and NO systems, we conclude that diesel exhaust inhalation alters vascular reactivity to ET-1 probably through its effects on NO bioavailability.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





910 - 915


Adult, Blood Pressure, Brachial Artery, Cross-Over Studies, Double-Blind Method, Endothelin A Receptor Antagonists, Endothelin B Receptor Antagonists, Endothelin-1, Humans, Inhalation Exposure, Male, Nitric Oxide, Oligopeptides, Peptides, Cyclic, Piperidines, Receptor, Endothelin A, Receptor, Endothelin B, Regional Blood Flow, Vasoconstriction, Vasodilation, Vehicle Emissions