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Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 354645, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/354645
Review Article

Endothelin-1 Role in Human Eye: A Review

Department of Ophthalmology, University “La Sapienza”, Polo Pontino, Latina, Italy

Received 14 June 2010; Revised 14 November 2010; Accepted 13 December 2010

Academic Editor: Alon Harris

Copyright © 2010 Serena Salvatore and Enzo Maria Vingolo. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Endothelin is a potent vasoactive peptide occurring in three isotypes, ET-1, ET-2, and ET-3. Through its two main receptors, endothelin A and endothelin B, it is responsible for a variety of physiological functions, primarily blood flow control. Recent evidence from both human and animal models shows involvement of endothelin in diabetes, retinal circulation, and optic neuropathies. Increased circulating levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1) have been found in patients with diabetes, and a positive correlation between plasma ET-1 levels and microangiopathy in patients with type-2 diabetes has been demonstrated. In addition to its direct vasoconstrictor effects, enhanced levels of ET-1 may contribute to endothelial dysfunction through inhibitory effects on nitric oxide (NO) production. Experimental studies have shown that chronic ET-1 administration to the optic nerve immediately behind the globe causes neuronal damage, activation of astrocytes, the major glial cell in the anterior optic nerve, and upregulation of endothelin B receptors. This paper outlines the ubiquitous role of endothelin and its potential involvement in ophthalmology.