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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2001 Nov;25(5):628-35.

Rho-kinase activation is involved in hypoxia-induced pulmonary vasoconstriction.

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Department of Cellular/Integrative Physiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.


Rho-associated serine/threonine kinase (Rho-kinase) is a downstream effector of small GTPase RhoA that has recently been shown to play an important role in regulating smooth muscle contraction. The present study investigated the role of Rho/ Rho-kinase in hypoxia-induced pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV). Small pulmonary resistance vessels and cultured pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) from the rat were used. PASMCs exposed to hypoxia (PO(2) = 26 +/- 2 mm Hg) showed a significant increase in Rho-kinase activity. Exposure to hypoxia for 20, 40, 60, 90, and 120 min also resulted in a significant increase in myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation at all time points in PASMCs. Hypoxia-induced MLC phosphorylation was inhibited by Y-27632 (a Rho-kinase inhibitor), exoenzyme C3 (a specific Rho inhibitor), or toxin B (an inhibitor for Rho proteins). In addition, hypoxia-induced Rho-kinase activation was blocked by C3 and toxin B. Small rat intrapulmonary arterial rings, which were made hypoxic (PO(2) = 30 +/- 3 mm Hg), showed a slow sustained contraction, and Y-27632 caused a significant relaxation during the sustained phase of HPV in a concentration-dependent manner. In summary, the data show that Rho-kinase is activated by hypoxia in PASMCs, and Rho/Rho-kinase is functionally linked to hypoxia-induced MLC phosphorylation and plays a role in the sustained phase of HPV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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