Early vascular aging is a process associated with gradual alterations in the vessels, regarding their structure and function, taking a more rapid course than normal biological aging in the arteries. In the presence of cardiovascular disease, these age-associated alterations are accelerated, contributing in the appearance or the progression of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, smoking and diabetes. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is the most abundant and important endothelin produced by vascular cells. ET-1 exerts its biological actions through the activation of two receptors: ETA and ETB. Many important functions are mediated by the activation of these receptors, such as cardiovascular remodeling, vasoconstriction, cell proliferation and differentiation, production of extracellular matrix, and water and sodium secretion control. ETA receptor seems to participate in the pathogenesis and development of diseases, such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, systemic and pulmonary hypertension, and cardiac remodeling after myocardial ischemia, whereas ETB receptor seems to prevent the overstimulation of ETA receptor, acting as a clearance receptor. Increased ET-1 system activity may contribute to vascular dysfunction in aging via multiple pathways, such as direct hemodynamic effects, vascular oxidative stress, inflammatory activity, mitogenic stimulation of the vascular smooth muscle cells and fibrotic processes. Endothelin receptor antagonists were considered to be used for the treatment of some diseases like hypertension, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. However, besides pulmonary hypertension, this class is not in clinical use because of the side effects and the availability of safer drugs for the treatment of these diseases.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, early vascular aging, endothelin, hypertension, vasoconstriction.
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