1. It has been shown in animals that substance P as well as acetylcholine releases endothelium-derived nitric oxide and evokes vasodilatation and that ATP-induced vasodilatation is partially mediated by nitric oxide. The aim of this study was to examine whether vasodilator effects of substance P and ATP are mediated by nitric oxide in humans.

2. In healthy volunteers (n = 35), we measured forearm blood flow by a strain-gauge plethysmograph while infusing graded doses of acetylcholine, substance P, ATP or sodium nitroprusside into the brachial artery before and after infusion of NG-monomethyl-l-arginine (4 or 8 μmol/min for 5 min). In addition, we measured forearm blood flow while infusing substance P before and during infusion of l-arginine (10 mg/min, simultaneously), or before and 1 h after oral administration of indomethacin (75 mg).

3. Acetylcholine, substance P, ATP or sodium nitroprusside increased forearm blood flow in a dose-dependent manner. NG-Monomethyl-l-arginine decreased basal forearm blood flow and inhibited acetylcholine-induced vasodilatation but did not affect substance P-, ATP-, or sodium nitroprusside-induced vasodilatation. Neither supplementation of l-arginine nor pretreatment with indomethacin affected substance P-induced vasodilatation.

4. Our results suggest that, in the human forearm vessels, substance P-induced vasodilatation may not be mediated by either nitric oxide or prostaglandins and that ATP-induced vasodilatation may also not be mediated by nitric oxide.

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