Endothelial cells (ECs) lining blood vessels have a variety of functions and play a critical role in the homeostasis of the circulatory system. It has become clear that biomechanical forces generated by blood flow regulate EC functions. ECs are in direct contact with blood flow and exposed to shear stress, a frictional force generated by flowing blood. A number of recent studies have revealed that ECs recognize changes in shear stress and transmit signals to the interior of the cell, which leads to cell responses that involve changes in cell morphology, cell function, and gene expression. These EC responses to shear stress are thought to play important roles in blood flow–dependent phenomena such as vascular tone control, angiogenesis, vascular remodeling, and atherogenesis. Much research has been done on shear stress sensing and signal transduction, and their molecular mechanisms are gradually becoming understood. However, much remains uncertain, and many candidates have been proposed for shear stress sensors. More extensive studies of vascular mechanobiology should increase our understanding of the molecular basis of the blood flow–mediated control of vascular functions.
Endothelium regulates vascular tone via release of endothelium-derived relaxing factors (EDRF) including nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin I2 (PGI2), and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). The mesenteric vascular bed produces vascular resistance to develop blood pressure and regulate tissue blood flow that plays an important role in maintenance of systemic blood pressure. There is now strong evidence that in these small resistance arteries, EDHF plays a major role in the response to vasoactive substances and regulation of vascular tone. Pharmacological analysis to investigate the role of the vascular endothelium in the regulation of α1-adrenoceptor agonist (methoxamine)-induced vasoconstriction in rat mesenteric vascular beds showed that vasoconstriction induced by continuous perfusion of methoxamine (7 μM), but not high KCl (60 mM), time-dependently decreased to 20% of the initial constriction. The time-dependent reduction of methoxamine-induced vasoconstriction was inhibited by endothelium removal, inhibitor of EDHF (30 mM KCl, K+-channel blockers), and gap-junction inhibitor, but not NO synthase inhibitor and cyclooxygenase inhibitor and ageing. These results suggest that vascular endothelium counteracts to normalize excess vasoconstriction of the mesenteric resistance arteries by releasing EDHF, which is associated with activation of multiple K+-channels and gap junction involvement and markedly decreases with ageing.
Genetic remodeling contributes to the progression of heart failure by affecting myocardial cellular function and survival. In our investigation of the transcriptional regulation of cardiac gene expression, we found several transcriptional pathways involved in pathological cardiac remodeling. A transcriptional repressor, neuron-restrictive silencer factor (NRSF), regulates expression of multiple fetal cardiac genes through the activity of histone deacetylases (HDACs). Inhibition of NRSF in the heart results in cardiac dysfunction and sudden arrhythmic death accompanied by re-expression of a number of fetal genes, including those encoding fetal ion channels, such as the T-type Ca2+ channel. In the pathological calcineurin – nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) signaling pathway, transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily C, member 6 (TRPC6) is a key component of a Ca2+-dependent regulatory loop. Indeed, inhibition of TRPC significantly ameliorates this pathological process in a mouse model of cardiac hypertrophy. Moreover, we recently showed that myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTF-A), a co-activator of serum response factor (SRF), mediates prohypertrophic signaling by linking the small GTPase Rho-actin dynamics signaling pathway to cardiac gene transcription. Collectively, our studies have revealed the transcriptional network involved in the development of cardiac dysfunction and potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of heart failure.
Cardiac hypertrophy is an increase in the muscle volume of the ventricle due to the enlargement of cardiac cells. Physiological cardiac hypertrophy is the normal response to healthy exercise, and pathological hypertrophy is the response to increased stress such as hypertension. Intracellular and extracellular aniosmotic conditions also change cell volume. Since persistent cell swelling or cell shrinkage during aniosmotic conditions results in cell death, the ability to regulate cell volume is important for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. Cell swelling activates a regulatory volume decrease (RVD) response in which solute leakage pathways are stimulated and solute with water exits cells, reducing the cell volume towards the original value. In cardiac cells, one of the essential factors for cell-volume regulation is the volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC). However, the relationship between cardiac hypertrophy and cell-volume regulation is not clear. In this review, we introduce our recent findings showing that the impairment of VRAC current is exhibited in ventricular cells from mice with cardiac hypertrophy induced by transverse aortic constriction. Similar results were shown in caveolin-3–deficient mice, which develop cardiac hypertrophy without pressure overload. These results suggest that VRAC will be a new target for protection from the development of cardiac hypertrophy.
Clock genes are believed to play a pivotal role in the generation and oscillation of circadian rhythm as a central clock in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus in the mammalian brain. In this study, mRNA expression was for the first time demonstrated with clock genes in both cultured murine microglia and microglial cell line BV-2 cells. Exposure to ATP transiently increased Period-1 (Per1) mRNA expression without affecting that of other clock genes in BV-2 cells, while a similarly transient increase was shown in Per1 mRNA expression in a manner sensitive to P2X7 purinergic receptor antagonists in cultured microglia exposed to ATP. In BV-2 cells transfected with a Per1 promoter luciferase reporter plasmid, ATP significantly increased luciferase activity in a manner sensitive to a P2X7-receptor antagonist. In both microglia and BV-2 cells, a significant increase by ATP was seen in the immunocytochemical fluorescence intensity of cells expressing Per1 protein, with mRNA expression of different P2 receptors including P2X7. Per1 siRNA significantly decreased the number of cells with processes in BV-2 cells exposed to ATP. These results suggest that ATP selectively promotes Per1 expression through gene transactivation after stimulation of P2X7 purinergic receptors in microglial cells.
The effects of 2-(4-chlorophenoxy)-2-methylpropionic acid (clofibric acid) on the formation of oleic acid (18:1) from stearic acid (18:0) and utilization of the 18:1 formed for phosphatidylcholine (PC) formation in endoplasmic reticulum in the liver of rats were studied in vivo. [14C]18:0 was intravenously injected into control Wistar male rats and rats that had been fed on a diet containing 0.5% (w/w) clofibric acid for 7 days; and the distribution of radiolabeled fatty acids among subcellular organelles, microsomes, peroxisomes, and mitochondria, was estimated on the basis of correction utilizing the yields from homogenates of marker enzymes for these organelles. The radioactivity was mostly localized in microsomes and the radiolabeled fatty acids present in microsomes were significantly increased by the treatment of rats with clofibric acid. The formation of radiolabeled 18:1 in microsomes markedly increased and incorporations of the formed [14C]18:1 into PC and phosphatidylethanolamine in microsomes were augmented in response to clofibric acid. The [14C]18:1 incorporated into PC was mostly located at the C-2 position, but not the C-1 position, of PC, and the radioactivity in 18:1 at the C-2 position of PC was strikingly increased by clofibric acid. These results obtained from the in vivo experiments directly link the findings that clofibric acid treatment induces microsomal stearoyl-CoA desaturase and 1-acylglycerophosphocholine acyltransferase in the liver and the findings that the treatment with the drug elevated absolute mass and mass proportion of 18:1 at the C-2 position, but not the C-1 position, of PC in the liver together.
It is known that the late asthmatic response (LAR), a characteristic feature of asthma, is closely associated with CD4+ Th2 cell–mediated allergic inflammation. Airway remodeling is also a pathogenesis of asthma, but literature reporting roles of CD4+ cells in the remodeling is controversial. There has been no study that simultaneously assessed the roles of CD4+ cells in both LAR and airway remodeling. Sensitized mice were intratracheally challenged with ovalbumin 4 times. Treatment with an anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody (mAb) before the 1st challenge almost completely abolished increase in CD4+ cells in the tissues after the 4th challenge. The late phase increase in airway resistance after the 4th challenge was also completely inhibited by anti-CD4 mAb. Parameters of airway remodeling, subepithelial fibrosis and epithelial thickening were attenuated by treatment, whereas the inhibition was only 30% – 40%. Bronchial smooth muscle thickening was not affected. Because interleukin (IL)-5 production as well as eosinophilia was effectively suppressed by anti-CD4 mAb, the effect of anti-IL-5 mAb was also examined, resulting in no inhibition of airway remodeling. Collectively, although the LAR was completely dependent on CD4+ cell activation, airway remodeling was only partially dependent on the cell.
To prove the pharmacological actions of honeybee royal jelly (RJ) on the nervous system, we examined the effects of RJ on CRE-mediated transcription. RJ increased CRE-mediated transcription in PC12D cells. Moreover, CRE-mediated transcriptional activity by RJ was enhanced by nobiletin. U0126, a MEK inhibitor, inhibited CRE-mediated transcription by combining RJ plus nobiletin without affecting transcription by RJ alone. These results suggest that RJ stimulates CRE-mediated transcription via an ERK-independent cascade, whereas the increasing CRE-mediated transcriptional effect by nobiletin is dependent on ERK phosphorylation. Combining RJ plus nobiletin may activate effectively neuronal functions via enhancement of CRE-mediated transcription.
Spinal blockade of 5-HT7 receptors has been reported to inhibit the antinociceptive effect of opioids. In this study, we found that subcutaneous administration of the selective 5-HT7 receptor agonist E-55888 (10 mg/kg) or the antagonist SB-258719 (5 mg/kg) exerted no effect on the tail-flick test in mice. However, E-55888, but not SB-258719, increased (2.6-fold) the analgesic potency of oral morphine. The potentiating effect exerted by E-55888 was prevented by SB-258719. A pharmacokinetic interaction was discarded as morphine plasma and brain concentrations were not significantly modified when co-administered with E-55888. These results reinforce the involvement of 5-HT7 receptors in opioid analgesia and point to a potential use of 5-HT7 receptor agonists as adjuvants of opioid analgesia.
In the present study, we investigated the transport of nephrotoxic mycotoxin ochratoxin A (OTxA) by a novel human organic anion transporter hNPT4 using the Xenopus oocyte expression system. hNPT4 mediated time- and concentration-dependent uptake of OTxA (Km: 802.8 μM) in a pH- and voltage-sensitive manner. Cis-inhibition experiments suggest that the substrate selectivity of hNPT4 is similar to that of hOAT4. The fact that the Km of OTxA for the efflux transporter hNPT4 was much higher than those for the uptake transporters hOAT1 and hOAT3 may favor the accumulation of OTxA in the tubular cell and lead to nephrotoxicity.