The insulin-sensitizing compound troglitazone has evolved into a promising therapeutic agent for type II diabetes. It improves insulin sensitivity and lipoprotein metabolic profiles and lowers blood pressure in humans and rodents. Because troglitazone has insulinlike effects on a number of tissues, we hypothesized that it may reduce vascular tone through stimulation of endothelial-derived nitric oxide (NO) production or by diminution of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i). Our results show that troglitazone decreases norepinephrine-induced contractile responses in the rat tail artery, an effect not reversed by the NO inhibitor L-nitroarginine methyl ester (L-NAME). In contrast, troglitazone significantly inhibited L-type Ca2+ currents in freshly dissociated rat tail artery and aortic VSMCs and in cultured VSMCs. The data suggest that troglitazone attenuates vascular contractility via a mechanism involving VSMC [Ca2+]i but independent from endothelial generation of NO. Because insulin has been shown to affect vascular tone by both of these mechanisms, troglitazone only partially mimics insulin action in this tissue.

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