BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Endothelium-derived vasoconstriction is a hallmark of vascular dysfunction in hypertension. In some cases, an overproduction of endothelium-derived prostacyclin (PGI2 ) can cause contraction rather than relaxation. Relaxin is well known for its vasoprotective actions, but the possibility that this peptide could also reverse endothelium-derived vasoconstriction has never been investigated. We tested the hypothesis that short-term relaxin treatment mitigates endothelium-derived vasoconstriction in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:Male Wistar Kyoto rats (WKY) and SHR were subcutaneously infused with either vehicle (20 mmol·L-1 sodium acetate) or relaxin (13.3 μg·kg-1 ·hr-1 ) using osmotic minipumps for 3 days. Vascular reactivity to the endothelium-dependent agonist ACh was assessed in vitro by wire myography. Quantitative PCR and LC-MS were used to identify changes in gene expression of prostanoid pathways and PG production, respectively. KEY RESULTS:Relaxin treatment ameliorated hypertension-induced endothelial dysfunction by increasing NO-dependent relaxation and reducing endothelium-dependent contraction. Notably, short-term relaxin treatment up-regulated mesenteric PGI2 receptor (IP) expression, permitting PGI2 -IP-mediated vasorelaxation. In the aorta, reversal of contraction was accompanied by suppression of the hypertension-induced increase in prostanoid-producing enzymes and reduction in PGI2 -evoked contractions. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:Relaxin has region-dependent vasoprotective actions in hypertension. Specifically, relaxin has distinct effects on endothelium-derived contracting factors and their associated vasoconstrictor pathways in mesenteric arteries and the aorta. Taken together, these observations reveal the potential of relaxin as a new therapeutic agent for vascular disorders that are associated with endothelium-derived vasoconstriction including hypertension.