Vitamin C (vitC) deficiency is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, but its specific interplay with arteriolar function is unclear. This study investigates the effect of vitC deficiency in guinea pigs on plasma biopterin status and the vasomotor responses in coronary arteries exposed to vasoconstrictor/-dilator agents. Dunkin Hartley female guinea pigs (n
= 32) were randomized to high (1500 mg/kg diet) or low (0 to 50 mg/kg diet) vitC for 10–12 weeks. At euthanasia, coronary artery segments were dissected and mounted in a wire-myograph. Vasomotor responses to potassium, carbachol, sodium nitroprusside (SNP), U46619, sarafotoxin 6c (S6c) and endothelin-1 (ET-1) were recorded. Plasma vitC and tetrahydrobiopterin were measured by HPLC. Plasma vitC status reflected the diets with deficient animals displaying reduced tetrahydrobiopterin. Vasoconstrictor responses to carbachol were significantly decreased in vitC deficient coronary arteries independent of their general vasoconstrictor/vasodilator capacity (p
< 0.001). Moreover, in vitC deficient animals, carbachol-induced vasodilator responses correlated with coronary artery diameter (p
< 0.001). Inhibition of cyclooxygenases with indomethacin increased carbachol-induced vasoconstriction, suggesting an augmented carbachol-induced release of vasodilator prostanoids. Atropine abolished carbachol-induced vasomotion, supporting a specific muscarinic receptor effect. Arterial responses to SNP, potassium, S6c, U46619 and ET-1 were unaffected by vitC status. The study shows that vitC deficiency decreases tetrahydrobiopterin concentrations and muscarinic receptor mediated contraction in coronary arteries. This attenuated vasoconstrictor response may be linked to altered production of vasoactive arachidonic acid metabolites and reduced muscarinic receptor expression/signaling.
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