Heartworm extract induces relaxation of isolated rat thoracic aorta
Endothelial cells modulate the function of their underlying smooth muscle. Thus, altered endothelial behavior could be important in the pathogenesis of vascular and lymphatic diseases, including human and animal filariasis. Endothelium-dependent relaxation is depressed in both in vivo canine femoral artery of dogs infected with Dirofilaria immitis and in vitro rat aorta exposed to adult D. immitis. The experiments reported here were designed to determine if filarial cyclooxygenase products could depress endothelium-dependent relaxation in vitro. Pretreatment of the parasites, but not the vascular ring, with either indomethacin or aspirin, prevented filarial-induced depression of relaxation. Analysis of heartworm-conditioned medium by gas chromatography--mass spectrometry revealed two peaks in the biologically active medium that were not present in the control. One peak had a retention time and chromatographic profile characteristic of derivatized PGD2 standard, and the other was not identified. Incubation of the vascular ring with PGD2 mimicked filarial-induced depression of endothelium-dependent relaxation at low, but not high, concentrations of acetylcholine. Thus, filarial PGD2 may be involved in altered endothelium-dependent relaxation seen in heartworm-infected dogs.