Epoxyeicosanoids as mediators of neurogenic vasodilation in cerebral vessels

Jeffrey J. Iliff, Ruikang Wang, Darryl C. Zeldin, Nabil J. Alkayed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) are potent vasodilators produced from arachidonic acid by cytochrome P-450 (CYP) epoxygenases and metabolized to vicinal diols by soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH). In the brain, EETs are produced by astrocytes and the vascular endothelium and are involved in the control of cerebral blood flow (CBF). Recent evidence, however, suggests that epoxygenases and sEH are present in perivascular vasodilator nerve fibers innervating the cerebral surface vasculature. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that EETs are nerve-derived relaxing factors in the cerebral circulation. We first traced these fibers by retrograde labeling in the rat to trigeminal ganglia (TG) and sphenopalatine ganglia (SPG). We then examined the expression of CYP epoxygenases and sEH in these ganglia. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis identified CYP2J3 and CYP2J4 epoxygenase isoforms and sEH in both TG and SPG, and immunofluorescence double labeling identified CYP2J and sEH immunoreactivity in neuronal cell bodies of both ganglia. To evaluate the functional role of EETs in neurogenic vasodilation, we elicited cortical hyperemia by electrically stimulating efferent cerebral perivascular nerve fibers and by chemically stimulating oral trigeminal fibers with capsaicin. Cortical blood flow responses were monitored by laser-Doppler flowmetry. Local administration to the cortical surface of the putative EET antagonist 14,15-epoxyeicosa-5(Z)-enoic acid (30 μmol/l) attenuated CBF responses to electrical and chemical stimulation. These results suggest that EETs are produced by perivascular nerves and play a role in neurogenic vasodilation of the cerebral vasculature. The findings have important implications to such clinical conditions as migraine, vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage, and stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1352-H1363
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral blood flow regulation
  • Cytochrome P-450 epoxygenase
  • Epoxyeicosatrienoic acid
  • Perivascular nerves
  • Soluble epoxide hydrolase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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