Using patch clamp, we induced depolarization of descending vasa recta (DVR) pericytes or endothelia and tested whether it was conducted to distant cells. Membrane potential was measured with the fluorescent voltage dye di-8-ANEPPS or with a second patch-clamp electrode. Depolarization of an endothelial cell induced responses in other endothelia within a millisecond and was slowed by gap junction blockade with heptanol. Endothelial response to pericyte depolarization was poor, implying high-resistance myo-endothelial coupling. In contrast, dual patch clamp of neighboring pericytes revealed syncytial coupling. At high sampling rate, the spread of depolarization between pericytes and endothelia occurred in 9 ± 2 or 12 ± 2 ?s, respectively. Heptanol (2 mM) increased the overall input resistance of the pericyte layer to current flow and prevented transmission of depolarization between neighboring cells. The fluorescent tracer Lucifer yellow (LY), when introduced through ruptured patches, spread between neighboring endothelia in 1 to 7 s, depending on location of the flanking cell. LY diffused to endothelial cells on the ipsilateral but not contralateral side of the DVR wall and minimally between pericytes. We conclude that both DVR pericytes and endothelia are part of individual syncytia. The rate of conduction of membrane potential exceeds that for diffusion of hydrophilic molecules by orders of magnitude. Gap junction coupling of adjacent endothelial cells may be spatially oriented to favor longitudinal transmission along the DVR axis.
To investigate the responses of descending vasa recta (DVR) to deformation of the abluminal surface, we devised an automated method that controls duration and frequency of stimulation by utilizing a stream of buffer from a micropipette. During stimulation at one end of the vessel, fluorescent responses from fluo4 or bis[1,3-dibutylbarbituric acid-(5)] trimethineoxonol [DiBAC?(3)], indicating cytoplasmic calcium ([Ca²?]CYT) or membrane potential, respectively, were recorded from distant cells. Alternately, membrane potential was recorded from DVR pericytes by nystatin whole cell patch-clamp. Mechanical stimulation elicited reversible [Ca²?)]CYT responses that increased with frequency. Individual pericyte responses along the vessel were initiated within a fraction of a second of one another. Those responses were inhibited by gap junction blockade with 18 ?-glycyrrhetinic acid (100 ?M) or phosphoinositide 3 kinase inhibition with 2-morpholin-4-yl-8-phenylchromen-4-one (50 ?M). [Ca²?]CYT responses were blocked by removal of extracellular Ca²? or L-type voltage-gated channel blockade with nifedipine (10 ?M). At concentrations selective for the T-type channel blockade, mibefradil (100 nM) was ineffective. During mechanostimulation, pericytes rapidly depolarized, as documented with either DiBAC4(3) fluorescence or patch-clamp recording. Single stimuli yielded depolarizations of 22.5 ± 2.2 mV while repetitive stimuli at 0.1 Hz depolarized pericytes by 44.2 ± 4.0 mV. We conclude that DVR are mechanosensitive and that rapid transmission of signals along the vessel axis requires participation of gap junctions, L-type Ca²? channels, and pericyte depolarization.
It has been observed that vasoactivity of explanted descending vasa recta (DVR) is modulated by intrinsic nitric oxide (NO) and superoxide (O(2)(-)) production (Cao C, Edwards A, Sendeski M, Lee-Kwon W, Cui L, Cai CY, Patzak A, Pallone TL. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 299: F1056-F1064, 2010). To elucidate the cellular mechanisms by which NO, O(2)(-) and hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) modulate DVR pericyte cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca](cyt)) and vasoactivity, we expanded our mathematical model of Ca(2+) signaling in pericytes. We incorporated simulations of the pathways that translate an increase in [Ca](cyt) to the activation of myosin light chain (MLC) kinase and cell contraction, as well as the kinetics of NO and reactive oxygen species formation and their effects on [Ca](cyt) and MLC phosphorylation. The model reproduced experimentally observed trends of DVR vasoactivity that accompany exposure to N(?)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, 8-Br-cGMP, Tempol, and H(2)O(2). Our results suggest that under resting conditions, NO-induced activation of cGMP maintains low levels of [Ca](cyt) and MLC phosphorylation to minimize basal tone. This results from stimulation of Ca(2+) uptake from the cytosol into the SR via SERCA pumps, Ca(2+) efflux into the extracellular space via plasma membrane Ca(2+) pumps, and MLC phosphatase (MLCP) activity. We predict that basal concentrations of O(2)(-) and H(2)O(2) have negligible effects on Ca(2+) signaling and MLC phosphorylation. At concentrations above 1 nM, O(2)(-) is predicted to modulate [Ca(cyt)] and MCLP activity mostly by reducing NO bioavailability. The DVR vasoconstriction that is induced by high concentrations of H(2)O(2) can be explained by H(2)O(2)-mediated downregulation of MLCP and SERCA activity. We conclude that intrinsic generation of NO by the DVR wall may be sufficient to inhibit vasoconstriction by maintaining suppression of MLC phosphorylation.
Descending vasa recta (DVR) are 12- to 15-?m microvessels that supply the renal medulla with blood flow. We examined the ability of intrinsic nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation to regulate their vasoactivity. Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibition with N(?)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME; 100 ?mol/l), or asymmetric N(G),N(G)-dimethyl-l-arginine (ADMA; 100 ?mol/l), constricted isolated microperfused DVR by 48.82 ± 4.34 and 27.91 ± 2.91%, respectively. Restoring NO with sodium nitroprusside (SNP; 1 mmol/l) or application of 8-Br-cGMP (100 ?mol/l) reversed DVR vasoconstriction by l-NAME. The superoxide dismutase mimetic Tempol (1 mmol/l) and the NAD(P)H inhibitor apocynin (100, 1,000 ?mol/l) also blunted ADMA- or l-NAME-induced vasoconstriction, implicating a role for concomitant generation of ROS. A role for ROS generation was also supported by an l-NAME-associated rise in oxidation of dihydroethidium that was prevented by Tempol or apocynin. To test whether H(2)O(2) might play a role, we examined its direct effects. From 1 to 100 ?mol/l, H(2)O(2) contracted DVR whereas at 1 mmol/l it was vasodilatory. The H(2)O(2) scavenger polyethylene glycol-catalase reversed H(2)O(2) (10 ?mol/l)-induced vasoconstriction; however, it did not affect l-NAME-induced contraction. Finally, the previously known rise in DVR permeability to (22)Na and [(3)H]raffinose that occurs with luminal perfusion was not prevented by NOS blockade. We conclude that intrinsic production of NO and ROS can modulate DVR vasoactivity and that l-NAME-induced vasoconstriction occurs, in part, by modulating superoxide concentration and not through H(2)O(2) generation. Intrinsic NO production does not affect DVR permeability to hydrophilic solutes.
We used the whole cell patch-clamp technique to investigate the regulation of descending vasa recta (DVR) pericyte Ca(2+)-dependent Cl(-) currents (CaCC) by cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca](CYT)), voltage, and kinase activity. Murine CaCC increased with voltage and electrode Ca(2+) concentration. The current saturated at [Ca](CYT) of ?1,000 nM and exhibited an EC(50) for Ca(2+) of ?500 nM, independent of depolarization potential. Activation time constants were between 100 and 200 ms, independent of electrode Ca(2+). Repolarization-related tail currents elicited by stepping from +100 mV to varying test potentials exhibited deactivation time constants of 50-200 ms that increased with voltage when electrode [Ca](CYT) was 1,000 nM. The calmodulin inhibitor N-(6-aminohexyl)-5-chloro-1-naphthalenesulfonamide hydrochloride (W-7, 30 ?M) blocked CaCC. The myosin light chain kinase blockers 1-(5-iodonaphthalene-1-sulfonyl)-1H-hexahydro-1,4-diazepine hydrochloride (ML-7, 1-50 ?M) and 1-(5-chloronaphthalene-1-sulfonyl)-1H-hexahydro-1,4-diazepine hydrochloride (ML-9, 10 ?M) were similarly effective. Resting pericytes were hyperpolarized by ML-7. Pericytes exposed to ANG II (10 nM) depolarized from a baseline of -50 ± 6 to -29 ± 3 mV and were repolarized to -63 ± 7 mV by exposure to 50 ?M ML-7. The Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent kinase inhibitor KN-93 reduced pericyte CaCC only when it was present in the electrode and extracellular buffer from the time of membrane break-in. We conclude that murine DVR pericytes are modulated by [Ca](CYT), membrane potential, and phosphorylation events, suggesting that Ca(2+)-dependent Cl(-) conductance may be a target for regulation of vasoactivity and medullary blood flow in vivo.
Multiple voltage-gated Ca(2+) channel (Ca(V)) subtypes have been reported to participate in control of the juxtamedullary glomerular arterioles of the kidney. Using the patch-clamp technique, we examined whole cell Ca(V) currents of pericytes that contract descending vasa recta (DVR). The dihydropyridine Ca(V) agonist FPL64176 (FPL) stimulated inward Ca(2+) and Ba(2+) currents that activated with threshold depolarizations to -40 mV and maximized between -20 and -10 mV. These currents were blocked by nifedipine (1 ?M) and Ni(2+) (100 and 1,000 ?M), exhibited slow inactivation, and conducted Ba(2+) > Ca(2+) at a ratio of 2.3:1, consistent with "long-lasting" L-type Ca(V). In FPL, with 1 mM Ca(2+) as charge carrier, Boltzmann fits yielded half-maximal activation potential (V(1/2)) and slope factors of -57.9 mV and 11.0 for inactivation and -33.3 mV and 4.4 for activation. In the absence of FPL stimulation, higher concentrations of divalent charge carriers were needed to measure basal currents. In 10 mM Ba(2+), pericyte Ca(V) currents activated with threshold depolarizations to -30 mV, were blocked by nifedipine, exhibited voltage-dependent block by diltiazem (10 ?M), and conducted Ba(2+) > Ca(2+) at a ratio of ?2:1. In Ca(2+), Boltzmann fits to the data yielded V(1/2) and slope factors of -39.6 mV and 10.0 for inactivation and 2.8 mV and 7.7 for activation. In Ba(2+), V(1/2) and slope factors were -29.2 mV and 9.2 for inactivation and -5.6 mV and 6.1 for activation. Neither calciseptine (10 nM), mibefradil (1 ?M), nor ?-agatoxin IVA (20 and 100 nM) blocked basal Ba(2+) currents. Calciseptine (10 nM) and mibefradil (1 ?M) also failed to reverse ANG II-induced DVR vasoconstriction, although raising mibefradil concentration to 10 ?M was partially effective. We conclude that DVR pericytes predominantly express voltage-gated divalent currents that are carried by L-type channels.
Descending vasa recta (DVR) are 15-microm vessels that perfuse the renal medulla. Ouabain has been shown to augment DVR endothelial cytoplasmic Ca(2+) ([Ca(2+)](CYT)) signaling. In this study, we examined the expression of the ouabain-sensitive Na-K-ATPase alpha2 subunit in the rat renal vasculature and tested effects of acute ouabain exposure and chronic ouabain treatment on DVR. Immunostaining with antibodies directed against the alpha2 subunit verified its expression in both DVR pericytes and endothelium. Acute application of ouabain (100 or 500 nM) augmented the DVR nitric oxide generation stimulated by acetylcholine (ACh; 10 microM). At a concentration of 1 mM, ouabain constricted microperfused DVR, whereas at 100 nM, it was without effect. Acute ouabain (100 nM) did not augment constriction by angiotensin II (0.5 or 10 nM), whereas l-nitroarginine methyl ester-induced contraction of DVR was slightly enhanced. Ouabain-hypertensive (OH) rats were generated by chronic ouabain treatment (30 microg.kg(-1).day(-1), 5 wk). The acute endothelial [Ca(2+)](CYT) elevation by ouabain (100 nM) was absent in DVR endothelia of OH rats. The [Ca(2+)](CYT) response to 10 nM ACh was also eliminated, whereas the response to 10 microM ACh was not. The endothelial [Ca(2+)](CYT) response to bradykinin (100 nM) was significantly attenuated. We conclude that endothelial responses may offset the ability of acute ouabain exposure to enhance DVR vasoconstriction. Chronic exposure to ouabain, in vivo, leads to hypertension and DVR endothelial dysfunction, manifested as reduced [Ca(2+)](CYT) responses to both ouabain- and endothelium-dependent vasodilators.
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