The responses of baboon cerebral and extracerebral arteries to prostaglandin endoperoxide (PGH2) and prostacyclin (PGI2) were investigated on isolated arteries and in vivo by serial angiography. Both PGH2 and PGI2 could produce dose-dependent contraction or relaxation of isolated arteries. PGH2 induced relaxation was indicative of prostacyclin synthetase activity, the enzyme which converts PGH2 to PGI2. In isolated arteries tested one to four hours post mortem only the vertebral artery showed prostacyclin synthetase activity. Thus PGH2 induced contraction of cerebral arteries may be indicative of a physiological function. Vasomotor tone may in part be the result of a balance between PGH2 constriction and PGI2 dilatation. In vivo PGI2 infusion caused pronounced and prolonged dilatation of cerebral arteries, which lasted longer than the cardiovascular changes. As PGI2 is the most potent cerebral vasodilator drug tested, it may be of clinical use in the treatment of cerebral vasospasm.
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