The role of the vascular endothelium
The vascular endothelium is a single layer of cells lining the internal vascular walls. It is the largest endocrine gland in humans, which for many years has been perceived mainly as a barrier between the blood and vascular smooth muscle. Today, it is known that it acts as a paracrine, endocrine and autocrine organ playing an important role in maintaining proper vascular homeostasis. The vascular endothelium regulates vascular wall tension and blood flow in vessels due to the controlled release of vasodilators [NO (nitric oxide) and PGI2 (prostacyclin)] and vasoconstrictors (endothelins and platelet-activating factor). Maintaining the delicate balance between them is of considerable significance for the cardiovascular system.