A major hypothesis for the mechanism of tolerance to nitroglycerin (NTG) is that continued use causes a decrease in thiol donors within the vascular smooth muscle cell that are essential for the effect of NTG. We tested this idea directly in the target cell. NTG tolerance, measured as reduced formation of intracellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), was induced in pig coronary smooth muscle cells. The consequence of altering intracellular levels of the thiol donors, glutathione (GSH) and L-cysteine (L-cys), was determined. Incubating cells with 100 μM NTG for 1 h caused an 83% reduction in cGMP formation in response to acute readministration of 200 μM NTG for 2 min but was not associated with a reduction in intracellular GSH or L-cys. This result was not altered when intracellular GSH levels were increased threefold by including 1 mM GSH in the incubation buffer. Also, recovery from tolerance was not affected by supplementation with GSH. Further, the response of cGMP to NTG was not altered by inhibiting the synthesis of GSH and lowering intracellular levels of GSH by 77%. Similar findings were made with supplemental L-cys or N-acetyl-L-cysteine. These results do not support the hypothesis that tolerance to NTG is the result of a reduction of the thiol donors GSH and L-cys within vascular smooth muscle cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine