Objective: To find out whether the lumbar sympathectomy modulated the endothelial function (as measured by nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin (PGI2), and blood flow in the canine femoral artery. Design: Laboratory experiments. Setting: Teaching hospital, Japan. Animals: 16 mongrel dogs. Intervention: Unilateral sympathectomy from L3 to L6. Main outcome measures: Five weeks later, the changes in blood flow, the endothelium-dependent responses and the PGI2 production in the canine femoral arteries were measured. Results: The median (range) blood flow of left (denervated) and right (innervated) femoral arteries was 162 ml/min (122-330) and 65 ml/min (40-92), respectively. There was a significant difference between the two groups (p < 0.01). The endothelium-dependent relaxations to acetylcholine, adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and A23187 were comparable. The amounts of PGI2 produced in the two groups were similar. Direct relaxation in response to sodium nitroprusside was also similar in the two groups. Conclusions: Lumbar sympathectomy did not alter the endothelial function, although the median blood flow in the denervated femoral arteries was significantly higher than in the innervated ones. The continuous vasodilatation after sympathectomy may be a more potent factor in the regulation of vascular tonus than the physiological regulation of NO and PGI2.
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