Endothelium-derived nitric oxide contributes to the regulation of venous tone in humans

Daniel J. Blackman, Jayne A. Morris-Thurgood, John J. Atherton, Gethin R. Ellis, Richard A. Anderson, John R. Cockcroft, Michael P. Frenneaux*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Background - Although nitric oxide (NO) is known to play an important part in the regulation of arterial tone, little is known about its role in veins. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of basal and stimulated NO activity in the regulation of tone of the human venous capacitance bed. Methods and Results - We measured venous tone using radionuclide forearm venous plethysmography in 24 healthy subjects with no cardiovascular risk factors. In 13 subjects, basal NO activity was assessed by measuring the effects on venous tone of an intra-arterial infusion of the NO synthase inhibitor N-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA). In the remaining 11 subjects, stimulated NO activity was evaluated by measuring the effects of an intra-arterial infusion of incremental doses of carbachol, followed in a subgroup by coinfusion with L-NMMA. Infusion of carbachol caused dose- dependent venodilation, with a maximal reduction in forearm venous tone of 40.1±12.5% (P<0.0001). Carbachol-induced venodilation was inhibited by L- NMMA (48.9±6.2% reversal of maximal venodilation, P<0.01). Infusion of L- NMMA alone caused venoconstriction (9.1±6.4% increase in venous tone, P=0.002). Conclusions - Human forearm capacitance veins exhibit both stimulated and basal NO activity, which indicates that NO contributes not only to the regulation of venous tone but also to resting venous tone in healthy human subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-170
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Endothelium
  • Nitric oxide
  • Veins


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