Early Structural Changes in Precapillary Vessels in Hypertension and Their Relationship to Functional Changes
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This presentation has reviewed evidence from our laboratory that both structural and functional changes participate in the initiation and maintenance of hypertension in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Structural changes are present in the muscular arteries of the mesenteric and renal vasculature at 3- to 5-week-old SHR as compared with WKY. The major structural change in SHR arteries was increased cross-section area with increased thickness of the media owing to hyperplasia of smooth muscle; lumen sizes were interchanged. Later, at 10-12, 21, and 28 weeks of age, there was further increase in medial thickness owing to hyperplasia, and some hypertrophy and changes in elastic arteries also became evident. Increases in medial thickness of elastic arteries included hypertrophy as well as hyperplasia. Changes in lumen diameter were never observed in arteries fixed in a relaxed state at physiological flow rates. In addition, a deficit in Ca handling (decreased ATP-dependent Ca2+ accumulation) was observed in plasma-membrane vesicles from mesenteric arteries of SHR prior to and after the development of hypertension. It persisted when hypertension was reversed by hydralazine in SHR. It was present in various forms of experimental hypertension. It was present whenever hypertension was present and disappeared with normalization of blood pressure by withdrawal of the stimulus. The Ca-handling deficit was found in several nonarterial tissues and may be a generalized genetic defect in SHR. It was always accompanied by increased alkaline phosphatase activity of plasma membranes, and this was suggested to reflect the smooth-muscle hyperplasia occurring simultaneously. A model of the initiation and maintenance of hypertension based on medial thickening and deficient Ca handling as primary, interacting causes of genetic hypertension is proposed.
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