The Endothelium and Its Role in Regulating Vascular Tone

Aamer Sandoo1, 2, *, Jet J.C.S Veldhuijzen van Zanten1, 2, George S Metsios2, Douglas Carroll1, George D Kitas1, 2
1 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom
2 Department of Rheumatology, Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust, Russell’s Hall Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands, United Kingdom

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© Sandoo et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Clinical Research Unit, 1st Floor North Block Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, DY1 2HQ, UK; Tel: (+44) 01384 456111 ext 3717; E-mail:


The endothelium forms an important part of the vasculature and is involved in promoting an atheroprotective environment via the complementary actions of endothelial cell-derived vasoactive factors. Disruption of vascular homeostasis can lead to the development of endothelial dysfunction which in turn contributes to the early and late stages of atherosclerosis. In recent years an increasing number of non-invasive vascular tests have been developed to assess vascular structure and function in different clinical populations. The present review aims to provide an insight into the anatomy of the vasculature as well as the underlying endothelial cell physiology. In addition, an in-depth overview of the current methods used to assess vascular function and structure is provided as well as their link to certain clinical populations.

Keywords: Endothelium, Smooth muscle, Nitric Oxide, Endothelial Dysfunction, Cardiovascular Disease, Atherosclerosis, Microvascular, Macrovascular..