An increasing number of mechano-sensitive ion channels in endothelial cells have been identified in response to blood flow and hydrostatic pressure. However, how these channels respond to flow under different physiological and pathological conditions remains unknown. Our results show that epithelial Na+ channels (ENaCs) colocalize with hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) and hemeoxygenase-2 (HO-2) within the caveolae on the apical membrane of endothelial cells and are sensitive to stretch pressure and shear stress. ENaCs exhibited low levels of activity until their physiological environment was changed; in this case, the upregulation of HO-1, which in turn facilitated heme degradation and hence increased the carbon monoxide (CO) generation. CO potently increased the bioactivity of ENaCs, releasing the channel from inhibition. Endothelial cells responded to shear stress by increasing the Na+ influx rate. Elevation of intracellular Na+ concentration hampered the transportation of l-arginine, resulting in impaired nitric oxide (NO) generation. Our data suggest that ENaCs that are endogenous to human endothelial cells are mechano-sensitive. Persistent activation of ENaCs could inevitably lead to endothelium dysfunction and even vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.
Bibliographical note© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Non-commercial use only
- endothelium dysfunction
- mechanical stress