PloS one

Vascular smooth muscle modulates endothelial control of vasoreactivity via reactive oxygen species production through myoendothelial communications.

PMID 19649279


Endothelial control of vascular smooth muscle plays a major role in the resulting vasoreactivity implicated in physiological or pathological circulatory processes. However, a comprehensive understanding of endothelial (EC)/smooth muscle cells (SMC) crosstalk is far from complete. Here, we have examined the role of gap junctions and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in this crosstalk and we demonstrate an active contribution of SMC to endothelial control of vasomotor tone. In small intrapulmonary arteries, quantitative RT-PCR, Western Blot analyses and immunofluorescent labeling evidenced connexin (Cx) 37, 40 and 43 in EC and/or SMC. Functional experiments showed that the Cx-mimetic peptide targeted against Cx 37 and Cx 43 ((37,43)Gap27) (1) reduced contractile and calcium responses to serotonin (5-HT) simultaneously recorded in pulmonary arteries and (2) abolished the diffusion in SMC of carboxyfluorescein-AM loaded in EC. Similarly, contractile and calcium responses to 5-HT were decreased by superoxide dismutase and catalase which, catabolise superoxide anion and H(2)O(2), respectively. Both Cx- and ROS-mediated effects on the responses to 5-HT were reversed by L-NAME, a NO synthase inhibitor or endothelium removal. Electronic paramagnetic resonance directly demonstrated that 5-HT-induced superoxide anion production originated from the SMC. Finally, whereas 5-HT increased NO production, it also decreased cyclic GMP content in isolated intact arteries. These data demonstrate that agonist-induced ROS production in SMC targeting EC via myoendothelial gap junctions reduces endothelial NO-dependent control of pulmonary vasoreactivity. Such SMC modulation of endothelial control may represent a signaling pathway controlling vasoreactivity under not only physiological but also pathological conditions that often implicate excessive ROS production.

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