Altered peripheral vasodilator profile of nitroglycerin during long-term infusion of N-acetylcysteine

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OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to compare the short- and long-term effects of intravenous nitroglycerin plus placebo and nitroglycerin plus N-acetylcysteine on peripheral arteries, veins and microcirculation in humans.

BACKGROUND: The thiol donor N-acetylcysteine may potentiate the hemodynamic response to nitrates in nitrate-tolerant and nontolerant patients. The vascular changes responsible for this effect are not clear.

METHODS: Eight male volunteers were treated with nitroglycerin (0.1 microgram/kg per min) combined with N-acetylcysteine (2 g intravenously, followed by 5 mg/kg per h) or placebo for 23 h in a double-blind, randomized, crossover study. Venous volume, the diameter of the radial and temporal arteries, calf blood flow and subcutaneous blood flow were measured at baseline and repeated after 1 and 23 h of infusion.

RESULTS: Prolonged coadministration of N-acetylcysteine and nitroglycerin potentiated the acute venodilator effect of nitroglycerin as estimated by changes in venous volume (nitroglycerin plus N-acetylcysteine, 4.45 +/- 0.36 ml/100 g; nitroglycerin plus placebo, 3.65 +/- 0.46 ml/100 g, mean +/- SEM, p < 0.05) and prevented development of tolerance as seen after 23 h of treatment with nitroglycerin plus placebo (4.35 +/- 0.25 vs. 3.47 +/- 0.41 ml/100 g, p < 0.05). N-acetylcysteine had no effect on nitroglycerin-induced changes in arterial diameters (p > 0.05) but significantly increased microcirculatory subcutaneous blood flow after 1 h (nitroglycerin plus N-acetylcysteine: 6.3 +/- 1.3 ml/100 g per min vs. nitroglycerin plus placebo: 3.5 +/- 0.3 ml/100 g per min, p < 0.05) and after 23 h (4.4 +/- 0.6 vs. 3.1 +/- 0.5 ml/100 g per min, p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that coadministration of nitroglycerin and N-acetylcysteine in humans 1) potentiates and preserves nitroglycerin-induced venodilation and 2) augments the effect of nitroglycerin on small resistance vessels (regulating subcutaneous blood flow) without affecting the response to nitroglycerin in middle-sized arteries. Both the development of nitrate tolerance and the administration of N-acetylcysteine significantly change the normal vasodilator profile of nitroglycerin in humans.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican College of Cardiology. Symposia
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)163-9
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1994

    Research areas

  • Acetylcysteine, Adult, Arteries, Blood Vessels, Double-Blind Method, Drug Synergism, Hemodynamics, Humans, Infusions, Intravenous, Male, Microcirculation, Nitroglycerin, Vasodilation, Veins

ID: 128984439