Endothelins mediate contractile responses in many types of vascular and nonvascular smooth muscle. The present study represents the first detailed characterization of endothelins in the human prostate. The objectives of this study were to determine the tissue levels and source of endogenous endothelin-1 (ET1) in the human prostate. The contractile effects of ET1 were also investigated using in vitro isometric tension studies. The mean tissue level of ET1 was 0.58 +/- 0.08 pg./mg. tissue wet weight. Endothelin-like activity was markedly prominent in the glandular epithelium of the human prostate, whereas minimal endothelin-like activity was observed in the prostatic stroma. Strips of human prostatic tissue were suspended in isolated tissue chambers and challenged to a concentration response of ET1. The mean EC50 and Emax for ET1 was 3.2 x 10(-8) M. and 0.12 +/- 0.02 gm. force per mm.2 cross-sectional area (CSA), respectively. Preincubation with indomethacin, terazosin, or nifedipine did not alter the concentration-dependent response to ET1. A calcium-free buffer abolished the contractile response to ET1. Thus, ET1 mediates a potent contraction of human prostatic smooth muscle that is not mediated via alpha 1 adrenergic or dihydropyridine sensitive calcium channels or prostaglandin synthesis. The presence of marked endothelin-like immunoreactivity strongly suggests a biological significance for endogenous endothelins in the human prostate.
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