[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Ex vivo heart perfusion (EVHP) provides the opportunity to resuscitate unutilized donor organs and facilitates assessments of myocardial function that are required to demonstrate organ viability prior to transplantation. We sought to evaluate the impact of different oxygen carriers on the preservation of myocardial function during EVHP.
Twenty-seven pig hearts were perfused ex vivo in a normothermic beating state for 6 hours, and were transitioned into working mode for assessments after 1 (T1), 3 (T3), and 5 (T5) hours. Hearts were allocated to 4 groups according to the perfusate composition. Red blood cell concentrate (RBC, N=6), whole blood (RBC+Plasma, N=6), an acellular hemoglobin based oxygen carrier (HBOC, N=8), or HBOC plus plasma (HBOC+Plasma, N=7) were added to STEEN solution to achieve a perfusate hemoglobin concentration of 40 g/L.
Perfusate composition impacted the preservation of systolic (T5 dP/dtmax: RBC+Plasma=903±99, RBC=771±77, HBOC+Plasma=691±82, HBOC=563±52 mmHg/second, p=0.047) and diastolic (T5 dP/dtmin: RBC+Plasma=-574±48, RBC=-492±63, HBOC+Plasma=-326±32, HBOC=-268±22 mmHg/second, p<0.001) function, and the development of myocardial edema (Weight gain: RBC+Plasma=6.6±0.9, RBC=6.6±1.2, HBOC+Plasma=9.8±1.7, HBOC=16.3±1.9 grams/hour, p<0.001) during EVHP. RBC+Plasma hearts exhibited less histologic evidence of myocyte damage (Injury score: RBC+Plasma=0.0±0.0, RBC=0.8±0.3, HBOC+Plasma=2.6±0.2, HBOC=1.75±0.4, p<0.001) and less troponin-I release (Troponin-I fold change T1-T5: RBC+Plasma=7.0±1.7, RBC=13.1±1.6, HBOC+Plasma=20.5±1.1, HBOC=16.7±5.8, p<0.001). Oxidative stress was minimized by the addition of plasma to RBC and HBOC hearts (Oxidized phosphatidylcholine compound fold change T1-T5: RBC+Plasma=1.83±0.20 vs. RBC=2.31±0.20, p<0.001; HBOC+Plasma=1.23±0.17 vs. HBOC=2.80±0.28, p<0.001).
A whole blood-based perfusate (RBC+Plasma) minimizes injury and provides superior preservation of myocardial function during EVHP. The beneficial effect of plasma on the preservation of myocardial function requires further investigation.
The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 09/2014; · 5.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ex vivo heart perfusion (EVHP) has been proposed as a means to facilitate the resuscitation of donor hearts after cardiocirculatory death (DCD) and increase the donor pool. However, the current approach to clinical EVHP may exacerbate myocardial injury and impair function after transplant. Therefore, we sought to determine if a cardioprotective EVHP strategy that eliminates myocardial exposure to hypothermic hyperkalemia cardioplegia and minimizes cold ischemia could facilitate successful DCD heart transplantation.
Anesthetized pigs sustained a hypoxic cardiac arrest and a 15-minute warm ischemic standoff period. Strategy 1 hearts (S1, n = 9) underwent initial reperfusion with a cold hyperkalemic cardioplegia, normothermic EVHP, and transplantation after a cold hyperkalemic cardioplegic arrest (current EVHP strategy). Strategy 2 hearts (S2, n = 8) underwent initial reperfusion with a tepid adenosine-lidocaine cardioplegia, normothermic EVHP, and transplantation with continuous myocardial perfusion (cardioprotective EVHP strategy).
At completion of EVHP, S2 hearts exhibited less weight gain (9.7 ± 6.7 [S2] vs 21.2 ± 6.7 [S1] g/hour, p = 0.008) and less troponin-I release into the coronary sinus effluent (4.2 ± 1.3 [S2] vs 6.3 ± 1.5 [S1] ng/ml; p = 0.014). Mass spectrometry analysis of oxidized pleural in post-transplant myocardium revealed less oxidative stress in S2 hearts. At 30 minutes after wean from cardiopulmonary bypass, post-transplant systolic (pre-load recruitable stroke work: 33.5 ± 1.3 [S2] vs 19.7 ± 10.9 [S1], p = 0.043) and diastolic (isovolumic relaxation constant: 42.9 ± 6.7 [S2] vs 65.2 ± 21.1 [S1], p = 0.020) function were superior in S2 hearts.
In this experimental model of DCD, an EVHP strategy using initial reperfusion with a tepid adenosine-lidocaine cardioplegia and continuous myocardial perfusion minimizes myocardial injury and improves short-term post-transplant function compared with the current EVHP strategy using cold hyperkalemic cardioplegia before organ procurement and transplantation.
The Journal of heart and lung transplantation: the official publication of the International Society for Heart Transplantation 07/2013; 32(7):734-743. · 5.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined the role of redox-sensitive signal transduction mechanisms in modifying the changes in [Ca(2+)](i) produced by ouabain upon incubating adult rat cardiomyocytes with antioxidants or inhibitors of different protein kinases and monitoring alterations in fura-2 fluorescence. Ouabain increased basal [Ca(2+)](i), augmented the KCl-induced increase in [Ca(2+)](i), and promoted oxyradical production in cardiomyocytes. These actions of ouabain were attenuated by an oxyradical scavenging mixture (superoxide dismutase plus catalase), and the antioxidants (N-acetyl-l-cysteine and N-(2-mercaptoproprionyl)glycine). An inhibitor of MAP kinase (PD98059) depressed the ouabain-induced increase in [Ca(2+)], whereas inhibitors of tyrosine kinase (tyrphostin and genistein) and PI3 kinase (Wortmannin and LV294002) enhanced the ouabain-induced increase in [Ca(2+)](i). Inhibitors of protein kinase C (calphostin and bisindolylmalaimide) augmented the ouabain-induced increase in [Ca(2+)](i), whereas stimulation of protein kinase C by a phorbol ester (phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate) depressed the action of ouabain. These results suggest that ouabain-induced inhibition of Na (+)-K(+) ATPase may alter the redox status of cardiomyocytes through the production of oxyradicals, and increase the activities of various protein kinases. Thus, these redox-sensitive signal transduction mechanisms involving different protein kinases may modify Ca(2+)-handling sites in cardiomyocytes and determine the magnitude of net increase in [Ca(2+)](i) in response to ouabain.
Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 01/2013; 91(1):45-55. · 1.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It has become evident that protein degradation by proteolytic enzymes, known as proteases, is partly responsible for cardiovascular dysfunction in various types of heart disease. Both extracellular and intracellular alterations in proteolytic activities are invariably seen in heart failure associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertensive cardiomyopathy, diabetic cardiomyopathy, and ischemic cardiomyopathy. Genetic cardiomyopathy displayed in different strains of hamsters provides a useful model for studying heart failure due to either cardiac hypertrophy or cardiac dilation. Alterations in the function of several myocardial organelles such as sarcolemma, sarcoplasmic reticulum, myofibrils, mitochondria, as well as extracellular matrix have been shown to be due to subcellular remodeling as a consequence of changes in gene expression and protein content in failing hearts from cardiomyopathic hamsters. In view of the increased activities of various proteases, including calpains and matrix metalloproteinases in the hearts of genetically determined hamsters, it is proposed that the activation of different proteases may also represent an important determinant of subcellular remodeling and cardiac dysfunction associated with genetic cardiomyopathy.
Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 07/2012; 90(8):995-1004. · 1.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Various procedures such as angioplasty, thrombolytic therapy, coronary bypass surgery, and cardiac transplantation are invariably associated with ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. Impaired recovery of cardiac function due to I/R injury is considered to be a consequence of the occurrence of both oxidative stress and intracellular Ca(2+)-overload in the myocardium. These changes in the ischemic myocardium appear to activate both extracellular and intracellular proteases which are responsible for the cleavage of extracellular matrix and subcellular structures involved in the maintenance of cardiac function. It is thus intended to discuss the actions of I/R injury on several proteases, with a focus on calpain, matrix metalloproteinases, and cathepsins as well as their role in inducing alterations both inside and outside the cardiomyocytes. In addition, modifications of subcellular organelles such as myofibrils, sarcoplasmic reticulum and sarcolemma as well as extracellular matrix, and the potential regulatory effects of endogenous inhibitors on protease activities are identified. Both extracellular and intracellular proteolytic activities appear to be imperative in determining the true extent of I/R injury and their inhibition seems to be of critical importance for improving the recovery of cardiac function. Thus, both extracellular and intracellular proteases may serve as potential targets for the development of cardioprotective interventions for reducing damage to the heart and retarding the development of contractile dysfunction caused by I/R injury.
International journal of cardiology 02/2012; · 6.18 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We tested whether the activation of proteolytic enzymes, calpain, and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) during ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) is mediated through oxidative stress. For this purpose, isolated rat hearts were subjected to a 30 min global ischemia followed by a 30 min reperfusion. Cardiac function was monitored and the activities of Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase, Mg(2+)-ATPase, calpain, and MMP were measured. Depression of cardiac function and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity in I/R hearts was associated with increased calpain and MMP activities. These alterations owing to I/R were similar to those observed in hearts perfused with hypoxic medium, H(2)O(2) and xanthine plus xanthine oxidase. The I/R-induced changes were attenuated by ischemic preconditioning as well as by perfusing the hearts with N-acetylcysteine or mercaptopropionylglycine. Inhibition of MMP activity in hearts treated with doxycycline depressed the I/R-induced changes in cardiac function and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity without affecting the calpain activation. On the other hand, inhibition of calpain activity upon treatment with leupeptin or MDL 28170 significantly reduced the MMP activity in addition to attenuating the I/R-induced alterations in cardiac function and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity. These results suggest that the I/R-induced depression in Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase and cardiac function may be a consequence of the increased activities of both calpain and MMP because of oxidative stress in the heart.
Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 02/2012; 90(2):249-60. · 1.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: μ-Calpain is a Ca(2+)-activated protease abundant in mammalian tissues. Here, we examined the effects of μ-calpain on three alternatively spliced variants of NCX1 using the giant, excised patch technique. Membrane patches from Xenopus oocytes expressing either heart (NCX1.1), kidney (NCX1.3), or brain (NCX1.4) variants of NCX1 were exposed to μ-calpain and their Na(+)-dependent (I(1)) and Ca(2+)-dependent (I(2)) regulatory phenotypes were assessed. For these exchangers, I(1) inactivation is evident as a Na(+)(i)-dependent decay of peak outward currents whereas I(2) regulation manifests as outward current activation by micromolar Ca(2+)(i) concentrations. Notably, with NCX1.1 and NCX1.4 but not in NCX1.3, higher Ca(2+)(i) levels alleviate I(1) inactivation. Our results show that (i) μ-calpain selectively ablates Ca(2+)-dependent (I(2)) regulation leading to a constitutive activation of exchange current, (ii) μ-calpain has much smaller effects on Na(+)-dependent (I(1)) regulation, produced by a slight destabilization of the I(1) state, and (iii) Ca(2+)-dependent regulation (I(2)) and Ca(2+)-mediated alleviation of I(1) appear to be functionally distinct mechanisms, the latter of which is left largely intact after μ-calpain treatment. The ability of μ-calpain to selectively and constitutively activate Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchange currents may have important pathophysiological implications in tissue where these splice variants are expressed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chemotactic movement of myofibroblasts is recognized as a common means for their sequestration to the site of tissue injury. Following myocardial infarction (MI), recruitment of cardiac myofibroblasts to the infarct scar is a critical step in wound healing. Contractile myofibroblasts express embryonic smooth muscle myosin, α-smooth muscle actin, as well as collagens I and III. We examined the effects of cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1) in the induction of primary rat ventricular myofibroblast motility. Changes in membrane potential (E(m)) and Ca(2+) entry were studied to reveal the mechanisms for induction of myofibroblast migration. CT-1-induced cardiac myofibroblast cell migration, which was attenuated through the inhibition of JAK2 (25 μM AG490), and myosin light chain kinase (20 μM ML-7). Inhibition of K(+) channels (1 mM tetraethylammonium or 100 μM 4-aminopyridine) and nonselective cation channels by 10 μM gadolinium (Gd(3+)) significantly reduced migration in the presence of CT-1. CT-1 treatment caused a significant increase in myosin light chain phosphorylation, which could be inhibited by incubation in Ca(2+)-free conditions or by application of AG490, ML-7, and W7 (100 μM; calmodulin inhibitor). Monitoring myofibroblast membrane potential with potentiometric fluorescent DiBAC(4)(3) dye revealed a biphasic response to CT-1 consisting of an initial depolarization followed by hyperpolarization. Increased intracellular Ca(2+), as assessed by fluo 3, occurred immediately after membrane depolarization and attenuated at the time of maximal hyperpolarization. CT-1 exerts chemotactic effects via multiple parallel signaling modalities in ventricular myofibroblasts, including changes in membrane potential, alterations in intracellular calcium, and activation of a number of intracellular signaling pathways. Further study is warranted to determine the precise role of K(+) currents in this process.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchangers (NCX) constitute a major Ca(2+) export system that facilitates the re-establishment of cytosolic Ca(2+) levels in many tissues. Ca(2+) interactions at its Ca(2+) binding domains (CBD1 and CBD2) are essential for the allosteric regulation of Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchange activity. The structure of the Ca(2+)-bound form of CBD1, the primary Ca(2+) sensor from canine NCX1, but not the Ca(2+)-free form, has been reported, although the molecular mechanism of Ca(2+) regulation remains unclear. Here, we report crystal structures for three distinct Ca(2+) binding states of CBD1 from CALX, a Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger found in Drosophila sensory neurons. The fully Ca(2+)-bound CALX-CBD1 structure shows that four Ca(2+) atoms bind at identical Ca(2+) binding sites as those found in NCX1 and that the partial Ca(2+) occupancy and apoform structures exhibit progressive conformational transitions, indicating incremental regulation of CALX exchange by successive Ca(2+) binding at CBD1. The structures also predict that the primary Ca(2+) pair plays the main role in triggering functional conformational changes. Confirming this prediction, mutagenesis of Glu(455), which coordinates the primary Ca(2+) pair, produces dramatic reductions of the regulatory Ca(2+) affinity for exchange current, whereas mutagenesis of Glu(520), which coordinates the secondary Ca(2+) pair, has much smaller effects. Furthermore, our structures indicate that Ca(2+) binding only enhances the stability of the Ca(2+) binding site of CBD1 near the hinge region while the overall structure of CBD1 remains largely unaffected, implying that the Ca(2+) regulatory function of CBD1, and possibly that for the entire NCX family, is mediated through domain interactions between CBD1 and the adjacent CBD2 at this hinge.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2009; 285(4):2554-61. · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchangers (NCXs) promote the extrusion of intracellular Ca(2+) to terminate numerous Ca(2+)-mediated signaling processes. Ca(2+) interaction at two Ca(2+) binding domains (CBDs; CBD1 and CBD2) is important for tight regulation of the exchange activity. Diverse Ca(2+) regulatory properties have been reported with several NCX isoforms; whether the regulatory diversity of NCXs is related to structural differences of the pair of CBDs is presently unknown. Here, we reported the crystal structure of CBD2 from the Drosophila melanogaster exchanger CALX1.1. We show that the CALX1.1-CBD2 is an immunoglobulin-like structure, similar to mammalian NCX1-CBD2, but the predicted Ca(2+) interaction region of CALX1.1-CBD2 is arranged in a manner that precludes Ca(2+) binding. The carboxylate residues that coordinate two Ca(2+) in the NCX1-CBD1 structure are neutralized by two Lys residues in CALX1.1-CBD2. This structural observation was further confirmed by isothermal titration calorimetry. The CALX1.1-CBD2 structure also clearly shows the alternative splicing region forming two adjacent helices perpendicular to CBD2. Our results provide structural evidence that the diversity of Ca(2+) regulatory properties of NCX proteins can be achieved by (1) local structure rearrangement of Ca(2+) binding site to change Ca(2+) binding properties of CBD2 and (2) alternative splicing variation altering the protein domain-domain conformation to modulate the Ca(2+) regulatory behavior.
Journal of Molecular Biology 02/2009; 387(1):104-12. · 3.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) family are important regulators of cytosolic Ca2+ in myriad tissues and are highly conserved across a wide range of species. Three distinct NCX genes and numerous splice variants exist in mammals, many of which have been characterized in a variety of heterologous expression systems. Recently, however, we discovered a fourth NCX gene (NCX4), which is found exclusively in teleost, amphibian, and reptilian genomes. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) NCX4a encodes for a protein of 939 amino acids and shows a high degree of identity with known NCXs. Although knockdown of NCX4a activity in zebrafish embryos has been shown to alter left-right patterning, it has not been demonstrated that NCX4a functions as a NCX. In this study, we 1) demonstrated, for the first time, that this gene encodes for a novel NCX; 2) characterized the tissue distribution of zebrafish NCX4a; and 3) evaluated its kinetic and transport properties. While ubiquitously expressed, the highest levels of NCX4a expression occurred in the brain and eyes. NCX4a exhibits modest levels of Na+-dependent inactivation and requires much higher levels of regulatory Ca2+ to activate outward exchange currents. NCX4a also exhibited extremely fast recovery from Na+-dependent inactivation of outward currents, faster than any previously characterized wild-type exchanger. While this result suggests that the Na+-dependent inactive state of NCX4a is far less stable than in other NCX family members, this exchanger was still strongly inhibited by 2 microM exchanger inhibitory peptide. We demonstrated that a new putative member of the NCX gene family, NCX4a, encodes for a NCX with unique functional properties. These data will be useful in understanding the role that NCX4a plays in embryological development as well as in the adult, where it is expressed ubiquitously.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is antiarrhythmic and cardioprotective. PUFA may also be beneficial in hypertension. Altered Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger (NCX) activity has been implicated in arrhythmias, hypertension and heart failure and may be a target for PUFA. Thus, we tested the effects of ALA and other distinct fatty acids on the cardiac (NCX1.1) and vascular (NCX1.3) NCX isoforms.
HEK293 cells stably expressing NCX isoforms were ramped from +60 to -100 mV (over 1600 ms) in the absence and presence of 25 microM oleic acid (OA, omega-9), linoleic acid (LA, omega-6), ALA (omega-3), or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, omega-3). NiCl(2) (5 mM) was used to inhibit and therefore identify the NCX current. The effect of 25 microM ALA on NCX1.1 and NCX1.3 activity was also assessed in adult rat ventricular cardiomyocytes and rabbit aortic vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) by measuring [Ca(2+)](i) following substitution of [Na(+)](o) with Li(+).
Application of Ni(2+) had no effect in non-transfected cells. ALA and EPA (25 microM) reduced the Ni(2+)-sensitive forward NCX1.1 current (at -100 mV) by 64% and reverse current (at +60 mV) by 57%, and inhibited the Ni(2+)-sensitive NCX1.3 forward and reverse currents by 79% and 76%, respectively. Neither OA nor LA (25 microM) affected the NCX1.1 currents, but both partially inhibited the forward and reverse mode NCX1.3 currents. Inhibition of NCX1.3 by ALA occurred at a much lower IC(50) ( approximately 19 nM) than for NCX1.1 ( approximately 120 nM). In cardiomyocytes and VSMC, ALA significantly reduced the Li(+)-induced rise in intracellular [Ca(2+)].
NCX1.3 is more sensitive to inhibition by ALA than NCX1.1. In addition, only omega-3 PUFA inhibits NCX1.1, but several classes of fatty acids inhibit NCX1.3. The differential sensitivity of NCX isoforms to fatty acids may have important implications as therapeutic approaches for hypertension, heart failure and arrhythmias.
Cardiovascular Research 02/2007; 73(2):395-403. · 5.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX) NCX1 exhibits tissue-specific alternative splicing. Such NCX splice variants as NCX1.1 and NCX1.3 are also differentially regulated by Na+ and Ca2+, although the physiological implications of these regulatory characteristics are unclear. On the basis of their distinct regulatory profiles, we hypothesized that cells expressing these different splice variants might exhibit unique responses to conditions promoting Ca2+ overload, such as during exposure to cardiac glycosides or simulated ischemia. NCX1.1 or NCX1.3 was expressed in human embryonic kidney (HEK)-293 cells or rat neonatal ventricular cardiomyocytes (NVC), and expression was confirmed by Western blotting and immunocytochemical analyses. HEK-293 cells lacked NCX1 protein before transfection. With use of adenoviral vectors, neonatal cardiomyocytes were induced to overexpress the NCX1.1 splice variant by nearly twofold, whereas the NCX1.3 isoform was expressed on the endogenous NCX1.1 background. Total expression was comparable for NCX1.1 and NCX1.3. Exposure of NVC to ouabain induced a significant increase in cellular Ca2+, an effect that was exaggerated in cells overexpressing NCX1.1, but not NCX1.3. The increase in intracellular Ca2+ was inhibited by 5 microM KB-R7943. Cardiomyocytes overexpressing NCX1.1 also exhibited a greater accumulation of intracellular Ca2+ in response to simulated ischemia than did cells expressing NCX1.3. Similar responses were observed in HEK-293 cells where NCX1.1 was expressed. We conclude that expression of the NCX1.3 splice variant protects against severe Ca2+ overload, whereas NCX1.1 promotes Ca2+ overload in response to cardiac glycosides and ischemic challenges. These results highlight the importance of ionic regulation in controlling NCX1 activity under conditions that promote Ca2+ overload.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The activity of the cardiac Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger (NCX1.1) undergoes continuous modulation during the contraction-relaxation cycle because of the accompanying changes in the electrochemical gradients for Na(+) and Ca(2+). In addition, NCX1.1 activity is also modulated via secondary, ionic regulatory mechanisms mediated by Na(+) and Ca(2+). In an effort to evaluate how ionic regulation influences exchange activity under pulsatile conditions, we studied the behavior of the cloned NCX1.1 during frequency-controlled changes in intracellular Na(+) and Ca(+) (Na(i)(+) and Ca(i)(2+)). Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchange activity was measured by the giant excised patch-clamp technique with conditions chosen to maximize the extent of Na(+)- and Ca(2+)-dependent ionic regulation so that the effects of variables such as pulse frequency and duration could be optimally discerned. We demonstrate that increasing the frequency or duration of solution pulses leads to a progressive decline in pure outward, but not pure inward, Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchange current. However, when the exchanger is permitted to alternate between inward and outward transport modes, both current modes exhibit substantial levels of inactivation. Changes in regulatory Ca(2+), or exposure of patches to limited proteolysis by alpha-chymotrypsin, reveal that this "coupling" is due to Na(+)-dependent inactivation originating from the outward current mode. Under physiological ionic conditions, however, evidence for modulation of exchange currents by Na(i)(+)-dependent inactivation was not apparent. The current approach provides a novel means for assessment of Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchange ionic regulation that may ultimately prove useful in understanding its role under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.