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  • Author: Viktor Bauer x
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In memory of Prof. Helena Rašková, MD., DSc., Dr.h.c.

On April 13, 2010, Prof. Helena Rašková, MD, DrSc., Dr.h.c., the legendary figure of Czecho-Slovak and world pharmacology, passed away. She was born in 1913 in Laussane in a physician's family of a Czech father and Russian mother. She was predestinated for science even due to her childhood experience and meetings with A. Einstein and the later Nobel prize winner W. Hess, who played in a chamber quartet with her father. Moreover, she became a polyglot from the earliest time of her life (Czech from her father, Russian from her mother), Switzerdeutsch and Hochdeutsch from nursary rhymes, French in the elementary school in Zurich and basic English in convent summer school in Weymouth, where as she put it "she got an early lesson that one loves one's own country but is also a citizen of the world".


The aim of the study was to analyze the involvement of the endothelium in the effects of neutrophils (PMNL) on phenylephrine-pre-contracted isolated rings of the rat thoracic aorta and to compare their effects with those of peroxynitrite (ONOO) and hypochlorous acid (HOCl). Activated PMNL-induced contraction of the precontracted aorta was prevented by the blockade of NO-synthase and by endothelium removal. In the endothelium-free preparations, the effect of PMNL reappeared in the presence of sodium nitroprusside. The effect of ONOO and HOCl significantly differed from that of activated PMNL both in the presence and absence of the endothelium. It is therefore likely that neither ONOO nor HOCl generated by transformation of superoxide anion radical (O2 •−) produced by PMNL is involved in their action. Reduction of the relaxant effect of nitric oxide derived from the endothelium by O2 •− seems to be the keystone mechanism in generation of PMNL-induced contraction.

Effects of reactive oxygen species and neutrophils on endothelium-dependent relaxation of rat thoracic aorta

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced in different metabolic processes including the respiratory burst of neutrophils accompanying local inflammation. The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP)-activated neutrophils, isolated from the guinea pig peritoneal cavity, on isolated rings of a large (conduit) artery, the rat thoracic aorta. FMLP-activated neutrophils enhanced the basal tension increased by α1-adrenergic stimulation. In phenylephrine-precontracted aortae, they elicited marked contraction, while in noradrenaline-precontracted rat aortal rings they caused a biphasic response (contraction-relaxation). To eliminate interaction of activated neutrophils with catecholamines, in the subsequent experiments the basal tension was increased by KCl-induced depolarization. Activated neutrophils evoked a low-amplitude biphasic response (relaxationcontraction) on the KCl-induced contraction. Not only the acetylcholine- and A23187-induced relaxations but also the catalase sensitive hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) elicited contractions were endothelium-dependent. Even though the acetylcholine-induced relaxation was changed by activated neutrophils and by the ROS studied, their effects differed significantly, yet none of them did eliminate fully the endothelium-dependent acetylcholine relaxation. The effect of activated neutrophils resembled the effect of superoxide anion radical (O2 •-) produced by xanthine/xanthine oxidase (X/XO) and differed from the inhibitory effects of Fe2SO4/H2O2-produced hydroxyl radical (OH) and H2O2. Thus O2 •- produced either by activated neutrophils or X/XO affected much less the endothelium-dependent acetylcholine-activated relaxation mechanisms than did OH and H2O2. In the large (conduit) artery, the effects of activated neutrophils and various ROS (O2 •-, OH and H2O2) seem to be more dependent on muscle tension than on endothelial mechanisms.


Metabolic syndrome belongs to the most important risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in cardiovascular system induced by high cholesterol and high fat diet (HCHF) in HTG rats and their influence by a pyridoindole antioxidant – SMe1EC2 (S). The effects of S were compared with those of atorvastatin (A). Male HTG rats were fed HCHF (1% cholesterol + 7.5% lard) for 4 weeks. S and A were administered p.o., 50 mg/kg b.w. Following experimental groups were used: Wistar rats (W), hypertriglyceridemic rats (HTG), HTG rats fed HCHF (CHOL), HTG+S (S-HTG), CHOL+S (S-CHOL), and CHOL+A (A-CHOL). Values of blood pressure (BP) and selected ECG parameters were monitored in conscious animals, functions of the isolated heart and aorta were analyzed ex vivo. At the end of the experiment, systolic (sBP) and diastolic (dBP) blood pressure was increased in HTG and CHOL. S and A decreased BP in all treated groups. Accordingly with BP changes, the aortic endothelial function of CHOL was damaged. Both S and A administration ameliorated the endothelium-dependent relaxation to values of W. PQ and QTc intervals were prolonged in CHOL, while the treatment with S or A improved ECG findings. Prodysrhythmogenic threshold was decreased significantly in CHOL and both treatments returned it to the control values. In conclusion, HCHF increased BP, impaired endothelial relaxation of the aorta and potentiated susceptibility of myocardium to dysrhythmias. The effect of S on the changes induced by HCHF diet was more pronounced than that of A.


Elevated plasma cholesterol, especially low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, is one of the major risk factors for atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Hereditary hypertriglyceridemic rats (hHTG) were developed as a new inbred model for the study of relationships between blood pressure and metabolic abnormalities. The aim of this work was to determine the cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant effects of the novel pyridoindol derivative SMe1EC2, compared to the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin, in rats fed either standard or high-fat and high-cholesterol diet (HFC; 1% cholesterol and 7.5% lard fat). Male hHTG rats fed HFC (HTG+HFC) were administered with SMe1EC2 or atorvastatin (both 50 mg/kg/day p.o.) for 4 weeks. Physiological status of animals was monitored by the measurement of preprandial glucose levels and blood pressure. Lipid profile was characterized by the serum levels of total cholesterol (TC), HDL-, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides (TRG). The concentration of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) was evaluated in the kidney, liver and serum. Further, the assessment of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IL-1 and IL-6 in the serum was completed. Feeding the animals with HFC diet resulted in increased serum levels of TC, LDL and TRG. SMe1EC2 ameliorated serum levels of LDL in hHTG rats, both on standard and HFC diet. These effects were comparable with those of the standard hypolipidemicum atorvastatin. SMe1EC2 lowered blood pressure, tissue TBARS concentrations and serum IL-1 levels of HTG+HFC rats. Beneficial effects together with very good toxicity profile predestinate SMe1EC2 to be promising agent for further surveys related to metabolic syndrome features.

Protection of the vascular endothelium in experimental situations

One of the factors proposed as mediators of vascular dysfunction observed in diabetes is the increased generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This provides support for the use of antioxidants as early and appropriate pharmacological intervention in the development of late diabetic complications. In streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes in rats we observed endothelial dysfuction manifested by reduced endothelium-dependent response to acetylcholine of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and aorta, as well as by increased endothelaemia. Changes in endothelium-dependent relaxation of SMA were induced by injury of the nitric oxide radical (·NO)-signalling pathway since the endothelium-derived hyperpolarising factor (EDHF)-component of relaxation was not impaired by diabetes. The endothelial dysfunction was accompanied by decreased ·NO bioavailabity as a consequence of reduced activity of eNOS rather than its reduced expression. The results obtained using the chemiluminiscence method (CL) argue for increased oxidative stress and increased ROS production. The enzyme NAD(P)H-oxidase problably participates in ROS production in the later phases of diabetes. Oxidative stress was also connected with decreased levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) in the early phase of diabetes. After 10 weeks of diabetes, adaptational mechanisms probably took place because GSH levels were not changed compared to controls. Antioxidant properties of SMe1EC2 found in vitro were partly confirmed in vivo. Administration of SMe1EC2 protected endothelial function. It significantly decreased endothelaemia of diabetic rats and improved endothelium-dependent relaxation of arteries, slightly decreased ROS-production and increased bioavailability of ·NO in the aorta. Further studies with higher doses of SMe1EC2 may clarify the mechanism of its endothelium-protective effect in vivo.