1. We reported in an earlier study that intravenous infusions of arginine-vasopressin (AVP), 220 pg min−1 kg−1 for 1 h, substantially reduced blood flow to the skin, skeletal muscle, pancreas, colon, small intestine, abdominal fat and myocardium  in conscious dogs. In the present study, we infused AVP directly into the artery supplying these organs and tissues in order to determine the relative contribution of local versus systemic mechanisms in the vascular resistance changes previously observed.
2. Regional blood flows were measured with radioactive microspheres in conscious, chronically instrumented dogs before and during intra-arterial infusions of AVP administered into the left axillary artery (n = 6), the left coronary artery (n = 6), and the cranial mesenteric artery (n = 6). The infusion rates were calculated to increase local, target organ plasma concentrations of AVP to the levels reached in our previous study while minimizing systemic changes.
3. Left axillary AVP artery infusion significantly reduced skin and compact bone blood flow, but had no effect on skeletal muscle blood flow. Intra-coronary AVP infusion had no effect on myocardial blood flow nor on cardiac output. Intramesenteric AVP infusion had no effect on blood flow to the colon, small intestine and abdominal fat, but significantly reduced blood flow to those areas of the pancreas which received blood from the cannulated artery.
4. Measurements in a limited number of dogs indicated that the local axillary and mesenteric venous levels of AVP were similar when the hormone was infused systemically at a rate of 220 pg min−1 kg−1 or intra-arterially at a lower rate.
5. These findings suggest that the increase in resistance measured in the skeletal muscle, small intestine, colon and abdominal fat after systemic administration of small amounts of AVP results in large part from indirect mechanisms. Direct vasoconstrictor effects of AVP at these plasma concentrations appear limited to the skin, the pancreas and the compact bones.