The gap junction is important in the propagation of dilation/constriction signals along vessels for coordinated behavior in control of vascular tone. The authors hypothesized that gap junctions might play a role in cerebral vasospasm following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). The aims of the present study were to investigate the role of gap junctions and to observe the potential therapeutic efficacy of gap junction blockers in cerebral vasospasm in vitro and in vivo.
For the in vitro investigation, the effect of heptanol on the oxyhemoglobin (HbO2)-induced contraction of isolated rabbit basilar arteries (BAs) was observed by using an isometric tension-recording method. For the in vivo experiments, the potential therapeutic efficacy of heptanol and carbenoxolone was surveyed after it was given intravenously in the rabbit double-hemorrhage model. Light microscopy was performed to assess the morphological changes in the arteries examined.
For the in vitro method, heptanol significantly inhibited the sustained contraction induced both by HbO2 and K+ in the BA rings. The magnitude of the heptanol-induced relaxation was dose dependent. The inhibitory effect of heptanol on the K+-induced vasoconstriction was weaker than that on the HbO2-induced constriction. After arterial rings were pretreated for 10 minutes, heptanol significantly decreased their responses to the HbO2-induced contraction. For the in vivo method, heptanol and carbenoxolone significantly decreased the narrowing of BAs when given intravenously in the rabbit double-hemorrhage model. In both treated groups, the diameters of the arteries had not changed significantly on Day 7 compared with those of the arteries in the SAH + vehicle and the SAH-only group.
Heptanol and carbenoxolone significantly inhibited the experimental cerebral vasospasm both in vitro and in vivo. Blockage of gap junctions is a probable candidate for a new approach in the treatment of cerebral vasospasm. Gap junctions may play a pathophysiological role in cerebral vasospasm.