The endothelium plays a key role in the control of vascular tone and alteration in endothelial cell function contributes to several cardiovascular disease states. Endothelium-dependent dilation is mediated by NO, prostacyclin, and an endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF). EDHF signaling is thought to be initiated by activation of endothelial Ca-activated K channels (KCa), leading to hyperpolarization of the endothelium and subsequently to hyperpolarization and relaxation of vascular smooth muscle. In the present study, we tested the functional role of the endothelial intermediate-conductance KCa (IKCa/KCa3.1) in endothelial hyperpolarization, in EDHF-mediated dilation, and in the control of arterial pressure by targeted deletion of KCa3.1. KCa3.1-deficient mice (KCa3.1) were generated by conventional gene-targeting strategies. Endothelial KCa currents and EDHF-mediated dilations were characterized by patch-clamp analysis, myography and intravital microscopy. Disruption of the KCa3.1 gene abolished endothelial KCa3.1 currents and significantly diminished overall current through KCa channels. As a consequence, endothelial and smooth muscle hyperpolarization in response to acetylcholine was reduced in KCa3.1 mice. Acetylcholine-induced dilations were impaired in the carotid artery and in resistance vessels because of a substantial reduction of EDHF-mediated dilation in KCa3.1 mice. Moreover, the loss of KCa3.1 led to a significant increase in arterial blood pressure and to mild left ventricular hypertrophy. These results indicate that the endothelial KCa3.1 is a fundamental determinant of endothelial hyperpolarization and EDHF signaling and, thereby, a crucial determinant in the control of vascular tone and overall circulatory regulation.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 09.2006|
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)