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INTRODUCTION: Sodium dependent glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2 or SLC5A2) inhibitors effectively lower blood glucose and are also approved treatments for heart failure independent of raised glucose. One component of the cardioprotective effect is reduced cardiac afterload but the mechanisms underlying peripheral relaxation are ill defined and variable. We speculated that SGLT2 inhibitors promoted arterial relaxation via the release of the potent vasodilator calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) from sensory nerves independent of glucose transport. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: The functional effects of SGLT2 inhibitors (dapagliflozin, empagliflozin, ertugliflozin) and the sodium/hydrogen exchanger 1 (NHE1) blocker cariporide were determined on pre-contracted mesenteric and renal arteries from male Wistar rats using Wire-Myography. SGLT2, NHE1, CGRP and TRPV1 expression in both arteries was determined by Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Kv7.4/5/KCNE4 and TRPV1 currents were measured in the presence and absence of dapagliflozin and empagliflozin. RESULTS: All SGLT2 inhibitors produced a concentration dependent relaxation (1µM-100µM) of mesenteric arteries that was considerably greater than in renal arteries. Cariporide relaxed mesenteric arteries but not renal arteries. Immunohistochemistry with TRPV1 and CGRP antibodies revealed a dense innervation of sensory nerves in mesenteric arteries that was absent in renal arteries. Consistent with a greater sensory nerve component, the TRPV1 agonist capsaicin produced significantly greater relaxations in mesenteric arteries compared to renal arteries. Relaxations to dapagliflozin, empagliflozin and cariporide were attenuated by incubation with the CGRP receptor antagonist BIBN-4096, the Kv7 blocker linopirdine and the TRPV1 antagonist AMG-517 as well as by depletion of neuronal CGRP. Neither dapagliflozin nor empagliflozin directly activated heterologously expressed TRPV1 channels or Kv7 channels. Strikingly, only NHE1 colocalised with TRPV1 in sensory nerves, and cariporide pre-application prevented the relaxant response to SGLT2 inhibitors. CONCLUSIONS: SGLT2 inhibitors relax mesenteric arteries by a novel mechanism involving the release of CGRP from sensory nerves following inhibition of the Na + /H + exchanger.

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