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Physiol Rev. 2003 Jan;83(1):183-252.

Regulation of amino acid and glucose transporters in endothelial and smooth muscle cells.

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Centre for Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine, Guy's, King's, and St. Thomas' School of Biomedical Sciences, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.


While transport processes for amino acids and glucose have long been known to be expressed in the luminal and abluminal membranes of the endothelium comprising the blood-brain and blood-retinal barriers, it is only within the last decades that endothelial and smooth muscle cells derived from peripheral vascular beds have been recognized to rapidly transport and metabolize these nutrients. This review focuses principally on the mechanisms regulating amino acid and glucose transporters in vascular endothelial cells, although we also summarize recent advances in the understanding of the mechanisms controlling membrane transport activity and expression in vascular smooth muscle cells. We compare the specificity, ionic dependence, and kinetic properties of amino acid and glucose transport systems identified in endothelial cells derived from cerebral, retinal, and peripheral vascular beds and review the regulation of transport by vasoactive agonists, nitric oxide (NO), substrate deprivation, hypoxia, hyperglycemia, diabetes, insulin, steroid hormones, and development. In view of the importance of NO as a modulator of vascular tone under basal conditions and in disease and chronic inflammation, we critically review the evidence that transport of L-arginine and glucose in endothelial and smooth muscle cells is modulated by bacterial endotoxin, proinflammatory cytokines, and atherogenic lipids. The recent colocalization of the cationic amino acid transporter CAT-1 (system y(+)), nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and caveolin-1 in endothelial plasmalemmal caveolae provides a novel mechanism for the regulation of NO production by L-arginine delivery and circulating hormones such insulin and 17beta-estradiol.

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