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Circ Res. 2004 Aug 6;95(3):308-18. Epub 2004 Jun 24.

Preferential expression and function of voltage-gated, O2-sensitive K+ channels in resistance pulmonary arteries explains regional heterogeneity in hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction: ionic diversity in smooth muscle cells.

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  • 1Heart and Stroke Chair in Cardiovascular Research, Cardiology Division, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, WMC 2C2.36, 8440 112th St, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2B7, Canada. sarcher@cha.ab.ca


Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) is initiated by inhibition of O2-sensitive, voltage-gated (Kv) channels in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). Kv inhibition depolarizes membrane potential (E(M)), thereby activating Ca2+ influx via voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. HPV is weak in extrapulmonary, conduit pulmonary arteries (PA) and strong in precapillary resistance arteries. We hypothesized that regional heterogeneity in HPV reflects a longitudinal gradient in the function/expression of PASMC O2-sensitive Kv channels. In adult male Sprague Dawley rats, constrictions to hypoxia, the Kv blocker 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), and correolide, a Kv1.x channel inhibitor, were endothelium-independent and greater in resistance versus conduit PAs. Moreover, HPV was dependent on Kv-inhibition, being completely inhibited by pretreatment with 4-AP. Kv1.2, 1.5, Kv2.1, Kv3.1b, Kv4.3, and Kv9.3. mRNA increased as arterial caliber decreased; however, only Kv1.5 protein expression was greater in resistance PAs. Resistance PASMCs had greater K+ current (I(K)) and a more hyperpolarized E(M) and were uniquely O2- and correolide-sensitive. The O2-sensitive current (active at -65 mV) was resistant to iberiotoxin, with minimal tityustoxin sensitivity. In resistance PASMCs, 4-AP and hypoxia inhibited I(K) 57% and 49%, respectively, versus 34% for correolide. Intracellular administration of anti-Kv1.5 antibodies inhibited correolide's effects. The hypoxia-sensitive, correolide-insensitive I(K) (15%) was conducted by Kv2.1. Anti-Kv1.5 and anti-Kv2.1 caused additive depolarization in resistance PASMCs (Kv1.5>Kv2.1) and inhibited hypoxic depolarization. Heterologously expressed human PASMC Kv1.5 generated an O2- and correolide-sensitive I(K) like that in resistance PASMCs. In conclusion, Kv1.5 and Kv2.1 account for virtually all the O2-sensitive current. HPV occurs in a Kv-enriched resistance zone because resistance PASMCs preferentially express O2-sensitive Kv-channels.

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