Endothelin in health and disease
Endothelin is a recently discovered peptide composed of 21 amino acids. There are three endothelin isomers: endothelin -1 (ET-1), endothelin -2 (ET-2) and endothelin - 3 (ET-3). In humans and animals levels of ET-1, ET-2, ET-3 and big endothelin in blood range from 0,3 to 3 pg/ml. ET-1, ET-2 and ET-3 act by binding to receptors. Two main types of the receptors for endothelins exist and they are referred to as A and B type receptors. Different factors can stimulate or inhibit production of endothelin by endothelial cells. Mechanical stimulation of endothehum, thrombin, calcium ions, epinephrine, angiotensin II, vasopressin, dopamine, cytokines, growth factors stimulate the production of endothelin whereas nitric oxide, cyclic guanosine monophosphate, atrial natriuretic peptide, prostacyclin, bradykinin inhibit its production. Endothelins have different physiological roles in human body but at the same time their actions are involved in the pathogenesis of many diseases.
The aim of this review was to present some of, so far, the best studied physiological roles of endothelin and to summarize evidence supporting the potential role of ET in the pathogenesis of certain diseases.