Testosterone-induced relaxation of rat aorta is androgen structure specific and involves K+ channel activation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent studies have established that testosterone (Tes) produces acute (nongenomic) vasorelaxation. This study examined the structural specificity of Tes-induced vasorelaxation and the role of vascular smooth muscle (VSM) K+ channels in rat thoracic aorta. Aortic rings from male Sprague-Dawley rats with (Endo+) and without endothelium (Endo-) were prepared for isometric tension recording. In Endo- aortas precontracted with phenylephrine, 5-300 microM Tes produced dose-dependent relaxation from 10 microM (4 +/- 1%) to 300 microM (100 +/- 1%). In paired Endo+ and Endo- aortas, Tes-induced vasorelaxation was slightly but significantly greater in Endo+ aortas (at 5-150 microM Tes); sensitivity (EC(50)) of the aorta to Tes was reduced by nearly one-half in Endo- vessels. Based on the sensitivity (EC(50)) of Endo- aortas, Tes, the active metabolite 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone, the major excretory metabolites androsterone and etiocholanolone, the nonpolar esters Tes-enanthate and Tes-hemisuccinate (THS), and THS conjugates to BSA (THS-BSA) exhibited relative potencies for vasorelaxation dramatically different from androgen receptor-mediated effects observed in reproductive tissues, with a rank order of THS-BSA > Tes > androsterone = THS = etiocholanolone > dihydrotestosterone >> Tes-enanthate. Pretreatment of aortas with 5 mM 4-aminopyridine attenuated Tes-induced vasorelaxation by an average of 44 +/- 2% (25-300 microM Tes). In contrast, pretreatment of aortas with other K+ channel inhibitors had no effect. These data reveal that Tes-induced vasorelaxation is a structurally specific effect of the androgen molecule, which is enhanced in more polar analogs that have a lower permeability to the VSM cell membrane, and that the effect of Tes involves activation of K+ efflux through K+ channels in VSM, perhaps via the voltage-dependent (delayed-rectifier) K+ channel.

published proceedings

  • J Appl Physiol (1985)

author list (cited authors)

  • Ding, A. Q., & Stallone, J. N

citation count

  • 100

complete list of authors

  • Ding, AQ||Stallone, JN

publication date

  • December 2001