Endothelin-1 (ET-1) has been proposed to contribute to the regulation of vascular tone in humans. BQ-123, an ETA receptor antagonist, has also been reported to increase forearm blood flow (FBF) in vivo; however, the efficacy of BQ-123 as an antagonist of ET-1 has not been evaluated in the forearm. The present study investigated the effects of BQ-123 on changes in FBF in response to ET-1 and noradrenaline (NA; norepinephrine), taking into account the possible influence of vasodilator effects of BQ-123 on responses to vasoconstrictors. Six subjects (age 25-34 years) participated in a double-blind randomized study. FBF was measured by forearm occlusion plethysmography. Drugs were infused intra-arterially into the non-dominant arm (study arm) on four separate occasions; the non-infused arm was used as a control. The effects of BQ-123 (50nmol/min for 60min, or 300nmol/min for 5min followed by saline for 55min) were compared with the effects of infusion of sodium nitroprusside (SNP; 12nmol/min for 60min) or saline on vasoconstriction induced by ET-1 (10pmol/min for 7min) and NA (120pmol/min for 7min). Infusion of BQ-123 at either dose did not significantly increase FBF, whereas SNP increased FBF by 134% (P = 0.03). ET-1 significantly reduced FBF, and this effect was almost completely inhibited by both doses of BQ-123, but was unaffected by SNP. NA also reduced FBF, and this action was unaffected by BQ-123 or SNP. The data show that BQ-123 is a selective ET-1 antagonist, but do not confirm a major role for ET-1 in influencing resting forearm vascular tone in young normotensive subjects.

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