Arterial endothelial dysfunction has been extensively studied in heart failure (HF). However little is known about the adjustments shown by the venous system in this condition. Considering that inferior vena cava (VC) tone could influence cardiac performance and HF prognosis, the aim of the present study was to assess the VC and thoracic aorta (TA) endothelial function of HF-post-myocardial infarction (MI) rats, comparing both endothelial responses and signaling pathways developed. Vascular reactivity of TA and VC from HF post-MI and sham operated (SO) rats was assessed with a wire myograph, four weeks after coronary artery occlusion surgery. Nitric oxide (NO), H2O2 production and oxidative stress were evaluated in situ with fluorescent probes, whilst protein expression and dimer/monomer ratio was assessed by western blot. VC from HF rats presented endothelial dysfunction, while TA exhibited higher acetylcholine (ACh)-induced vasodilation when compared to vessels from SO rats. TA exhibited increased ACh-induced NO production due to a higher coupling of endothelial and neuronal NO synthases isoforms (eNOS, nNOS), and enhanced expression of antioxidant enzymes. These adjustments, however, were absent in VC of HF post-MI rats, which exhibited uncoupled nNOS, oxidative stress and higher H2O2 bioavailability. Altogether, this study suggests a differential regulation of endothelial function between VC and TA of HF post-MI rats, most likely due to nNOS uncoupling and compromised antioxidant defense.

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