Impairment of vasodilator function in basilar arteries from aged rats

Silvia M. Arribas, Elisabet Vila, John C. McGrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: Aging is associated with a reduction in cerebral perfusion. Impaired vasodilatation in large brain arteries could be implicated: This study sought age-related changes in vasodilator responses to norepinephrine in rat basilar artery and investigated which aspects of norepinephrine's action are responsible. To study the effect of aging per se, we used the rat, an animal with resistance to development of age-related pathologies. Methods: Vascular responses were studied in basilar arteries from young (3 to 4 months old) and old (20 to 22 months old) normotensive Sprague-Dawley rats with wire myography. Endothelial structure was assessed with confocal microscopy. Results: There was no age-related difference in blood pressure and in KCI or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) contractions relaxation to bradykinin or its absence predicted an intact or denuded endothelium, confirmed by confocal microscopy. Norepinephrine produced concentration-dependent relaxation that was significantly smaller in old rats, with or without endothelium. This response was significantly smaller in endothelium-denuded vessels, or after preincubation with N(G)-nitro-L- arginine methyl ester or propranolol, but not with rauwolscine. Conclusions: In old and young rats the vasodilator action of norepinephrine in basilar artery is dependent on β-adrenoceptors and nitric oxide. The impaired vasodilatation to norepinephrine found in the basilar artery from old rats might he caused by (1) a reduction in nitric oxide production and/or release or (2) β-adrenoceptor alteration at the endothelium and/or the vascular smooth muscle. This impairment of vasodilator function can be ascribed to the aging process per se and not to other age-related alterations, such as hypertension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1812-1820
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997


  • Aging
  • Basilar artery
  • Endothelium
  • Nitric oxide
  • β-adrenoceptors


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