Endothelin (ET)-1 and thromboxane (Tx) levels are increased in human atherosclerosis. One of the aims of this study was to understand how receptors for a peptide mediator (ET-1) with a long physiological half life, would differ from a lipid mediator (TxA2), with a short physiological half life, in human coronary artery disease (CAD). Secondly, to determine if receptor protein is present in human coronary artery vascular smooth muscle for the recently adopted peptide orphan receptors for urotensin-II, apelin and ghrelin. The ETA receptor subtype predominated in the medial smooth muscle layer of both non-diseased coronary artery (NCA) and CAD. However, this subtype was present at relatively low density in the proliferated intimal layer of CAD. The ETB receptor protein was not altered with CAD, compared with NCA. Tx receptor density was significantly (P<0.05) increased in both the media and intima of CAD, compared with NCA. There was no alteration in receptor density, on the medial smooth muscle for urotensin-II and apelin with CAD. Interestingly, receptor density for the novel vasodilator peptide ghrelin was significantly (P<0.05) increased (approx. 4 fold) with CAD, compared with NCA. The alteration of receptor density with disease for Tx and ghrelin provides novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of atherosclerosis. In conclusion, while some GPCR are altered, others remain unchanged with human atherosclerosis. The increase in vasoconstrictor Tx receptor density with disease suggests the importance of Tx receptor antagonism. Intriguingly, the increase in receptor density for the novel vasodilator ghrelin, identified from post-genomic research, may potentially be beneficial with human atherosclerosis.

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