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Hypertension. 2009 Jun;53(6):1000-7. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.108.128520. Epub 2009 Apr 27.

Endothelial epithelial sodium channel inhibition activates endothelial nitric oxide synthase via phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt in small-diameter mesenteric arteries.

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  • 1Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Chile, Independencia, Santiago, Chile.


Recent studies have shown that the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) is expressed in vascular tissue. However, the role that ENaC may play in the responses to vasoconstrictors and NO production has yet to be addressed. In this study, the contractile responses of perfused pressurized small-diameter rat mesenteric arteries to phenylephrine and serotonin were reduced by ENaC blockade with amiloride (75.1+/-3.2% and 16.9+/-2.3% of control values, respectively; P<0.01) that was dose dependent (EC(50)=88.9+/-1.6 nmol/L). Incubation with benzamil, another ENaC blocker, had similar effects. alpha, beta, and gamma ENaC were identified in small-diameter rat mesenteric arteries using RT-PCR and Western blot with specific antibodies. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry localized ENaC expression to the tunica media and endothelium of small-diameter rat mesenteric arteries. Patch-clamp experiments demonstrated that primary cultures of mesenteric artery endothelial cells expressed amiloride-sensitive sodium currents. Mechanical ablation of the endothelium or inhibition of eNOS with N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine inhibited the reduction in contractility caused by ENaC blockers. ENaC inhibitors increased eNOS phosphorylation (Ser 1177) and Akt phosphorylation (Ser 473). The presence of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 blunted Akt phosphorylation and eNOS phosphorylation and the decrease in the response to phenylephrine caused by blockers of ENaC, indicating that the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway was activated after ENaC inhibition. Finally, we observed that the effects of blockers of ENaC were flow dependent and that the vasodilatory response to shear stress was enhanced by ENaC blockade. Our results identify a previously unappreciated role for ENaC as a negative modulator of eNOS and NO production in resistance arteries.

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