1. Wistar female rats were made hypertensive by applying a silver clip to the left renal artery and removing the right kidney. In aortas, the proliferation fraction of smooth muscle cells, DNA synthesis and wet weight have been correlated with the blood pressure increase subsequent to the operation.
2. A wave of proliferation of smooth muscle cells in the aortic media is triggered immediately after the highest increased rate of blood pressure. When blood pressure stabilizes at high values, the metabolism of nucleic acid within the aortic media resumes its normal level but the arterial changes previously established persist.
3. The sequence of pathological events responsible for these changes could be: increment of blood pressure; increase in wall stress; proliferation of smooth muscle cells; thickening of arterial wall; correction of the wall stress; end of proliferation.
4. The consequence of this early proliferation of aortic smooth muscle cells is not clear but it is probably one of the mechanisms through which high blood pressure is sustained. It can also participate in atherogenesis, being in this way one of the bases of the well-known relationship between hypertension and atherosclerosis.