Several studies have shown that UV irradiation may be effective for preventing vascular restenosis or vasospasm. However, the long-term effects of UV light on the physiological properties of vessels such as arterial tension have not been elucidated. We therefore studied the long-term effects of UV using rat carotid arteries treated with UV-B light (wavelength = 313 nm, total energy = 14 mJ/mm2). The animals were sacrificed at 1, 7 and 14 days after UV light exposure, and the carotid arteries were studied by light microscopy and the contractile responses of isolated arterial rings were recorded under isometric tension. UV treatment had induced a substantial loss of smooth muscle cells (SMC) along the entire circumference of the media on days 7 and 14, whereas loss of SMC on day 1 was negligible. Contractile responses of arteries that had been exposed to UV light were significantly reduced on days 1, 7 and 14. The susceptibility of UV-treated arteries to phenylephrine and prostaglandin F2α was significantly decreased on days 1 and 7, but decreased susceptibility was not seen on day 14. Acetylcholine-induced relaxations were not altered by UV treatment. These results suggest that the long-term effect of UV light is an attenuation of smooth muscle contractility without impairment of endothelial function.
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Vol. 78 • No. 4