Endothelium reportedly told smooth muscle, "Dude, relax. Acetylcholine's cool."

Approximately 1/3rd of Americans have high blood pressure which contributes to two of the leading causes of death, heart disease and stroke.  One of the most important discoveries that contribute to our understand of blood pressure regulation was made entirely by accident.  For years, Robert Furchgott's lab had used strips of rabbit aorta to study constriction and relaxation of vessels.  When they switched to a new method using rings of aorta in 1978, acetylcholine, which previously caused constriction of the vessel, now cause relaxation.  It became apparent that they had unintentionally been rubbing away the inner cell layer of the vessel, the endothelium, and that it's presence was necessary for acetylcholine to relax vessels.  Their discovery has been essential to our current understanding of the cardiovascular system.

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