Prostacyclin (PGI2) mimetics (iloprost, treprostinil) are potent vasodilators (primarily via IP-receptor activation) and major therapeutic interventions for pulmonary hypertension (PH). Increased plasma levels of endothelin (ET-1), thromboxane (TxA2) and catecholamines have been demonstrated from patients with PH. In this study, we aimed to compare relaxant effects of iloprost and treprostinil on human (HPA) and rat pulmonary arteries precontracted with either ET-1, thromboxane (U46619) or an α-adrenergic receptor agonist (Norepinephrine, NE or phenylephrine, PE). Treprostinil and iloprost induced vasorelaxation of HPA precontracted with NE, ET-1 or U46619. We obtained greater relaxation response and sensitivity to treprostinil when ET-1 or U46619 were used to induce the precontraction in comparison to NE. In contrast, iloprost showed less relaxation response and sensitivity in HPA precontracted with U46619 versus NE. In the rat, treprostinil and iloprost induced vasorelaxation of pulmonary arteries precontracted with PE and U46619 but minimally with ET-1. However, in rat pulmonary arteries, PE-induced precontractions were comparatively low amplitude. Our study showed that the ex vivo relaxation or sensitivity of pulmonary arteries induced by PGI2 mimetics is highly dependent on both the pre-contraction agent and the species. To best extrapolate to effects on human tissue, our results suggest that U46619 is the appropriate contractile agent for assessing the relaxant effect of PGI2 mimetics in rat pulmonary arteries. Finally we suggest that in PH patients with high plasma concentration of TxA2, treprostinil (not iloprost) would be a preferential treatment. On the other hand, if the ET-1 plasmatic level is high, either treprostinil or iloprost will be effective.
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