In mammals, prolonged mechanical unloading results in a significant decrease in passive stiffness of postural muscles. The nature of this phenomenon remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible causes for a reduction in rat soleus passive stiffness after 7 and 14 days of unloading (hindlimb suspension, HS). We hypothesized that HS-induced decrease in passive stiffness would be associated with calpain-dependent degradation of cytoskeletal proteins or a decrease in actomyosin interaction. Wistar rats were subjected to HS for 7 and 14 days with or without PD150606 (calpain inhibitor) treatment. Soleus muscles were subjected to biochemical analysis and ex vivo measurements of passive tension with or without blebbistatin treatment (an inhibitor of actomyosin interactions). Passive tension of isolated soleus muscle was significantly reduced after 7- and 14-day HS compared to the control values. PD150606 treatment during 7- and 14-day HS induced an increase in alpha-actinin-2 and -3, desmin contents compared to control, partly prevented a decrease in intact titin (T1) content, and prevented a decrease in soleus passive tension. Incubation of soleus muscle with blebbistatin did not affect HS-induced reductions in specific passive tension in soleus muscle. Our study suggests that calpain-dependent breakdown of cytoskeletal proteins, but not a change in actomyosin interaction, significantly contributes to unloading-induced reductions in intrinsic passive stiffness of rat soleus muscle.
Regulated Na⁺ transport in the distal nephron is of fundamental importance to fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. Further upstream, Na⁺ is the principal driver of secondary active transport of numerous organic and inorganic solutes. In the distal nephron, Na⁺ continues to play a central role in controlling the body levels and concentrations of a more select group of ions, including K⁺, Ca⁺⁺, Mg⁺⁺, Cl⁻, and HCO3⁻, as well as water. Also, of paramount importance are transport mechanisms aimed at controlling the total level of Na⁺ itself in the body, as well as its concentrations in intracellular and extracellular compartments. Over the last several decades, the transporters involved in moving Na⁺ in the distal nephron, and directly or indirectly coupling its movement to that of other ions have been identified, and their interrelationships brought into focus. Just as importantly, the signaling systems and their components—kinases, ubiquitin ligases, phosphatases, transcription factors, and others—have also been identified and many of their actions elucidated. This review will touch on selected aspects of ion transport regulation, and its impact on fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. A particular focus will be on emerging evidence for site-specific regulation of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and its role in both Na⁺ and K⁺ homeostasis. In this context, the critical regulatory roles of aldosterone, the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR), and the kinases SGK1 and mTORC2 will be highlighted. This includes a discussion of the newly established concept that local K⁺ concentrations are involved in the reciprocal regulation of Na⁺-Cl⁻ cotransporter (NCC) and ENaC activity to adjust renal K⁺ secretion to dietary intake.
The identification of genetic factors associated with the risk, onset, and progression of kidney disease has the potential to provide mechanistic insights and therapeutic perspectives. In less than two decades, technological advances yielded a trove of information on the genetic architecture of chronic kidney disease. The spectrum of genetic influence ranges from (ultra)rare variants with large effect size, involved in Mendelian diseases, to common variants, often non-coding and with small effect size, which contribute to polygenic diseases. Here, we review the paradigm of UMOD , the gene coding for uromodulin, to illustrate how a kidney-specific protein of major physiological importance is involved in a spectrum of kidney disorders. This new field of investigation illustrates the importance of genetic variation in the pathogenesis and prognosis of disease, with therapeutic implications.
Extracellular fluid calcium concentration must be maintained within a narrow range in order to sustain many biological functions, encompassing muscle contraction, blood coagulation, and bone and tooth mineralization. Blood calcium value is critically dependent on the ability of the renal tubule to reabsorb the adequate amount of filtered calcium. Tubular calcium reabsorption is carried out by various and complex mechanisms in 3 distinct segments: the proximal tubule, the cortical thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle, and the late distal convoluted/connecting tubule. In addition, calcium reabsorption is tightly controlled by many endocrine, paracrine, and autocrine factors, as well as by non-hormonal factors, in order to adapt the tubular handling of calcium to the metabolic requirements. The present review summarizes the current knowledge of the mechanisms and factors involved in calcium handling by the kidney and, ultimately, in extracellular calcium homeostasis. The review also highlights some of our gaps in understanding that need to be addressed in the future.
Renal erythropoietin (Epo)-producing (REP) cells represent a rare and incompletely understood cell type. REP cells are fibroblast-like cells located in close proximity to blood vessels and tubules of the corticomedullary border region. Epo mRNA in REP cells is produced in a pronounced “on–off” mode, showing transient transcriptional bursts upon exposure to hypoxia. In contrast to “ordinary” fibroblasts, REP cells do not proliferate ex vivo, cease to produce Epo, and lose their identity following immortalization and prolonged in vitro culture, consistent with the loss of Epo production following REP cell proliferation during tissue remodelling in chronic kidney disease. Because Epo protein is usually not detectable in kidney tissue, and Epo mRNA is only transiently induced under hypoxic conditions, transgenic mouse models have been developed to permanently label REP cell precursors, active Epo producers, and inactive descendants. Future single-cell analyses of the renal stromal compartment will identify novel characteristic markers of tagged REP cells, which will provide novel insights into the regulation of Epo expression in this unique cell type.
Hypertension is one of the leading causes of premature death in humans and exhibits a complex aetiology including environmental and genetic factors. Mutations within the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) can cause glucocorticoid resistance, which is characterized by several clinical features like hypercortisolism, hypokalaemia, adrenal hyperplasia and hypertension. Altered glucocorticoid receptor signalling further affects sodium and potassium homeostasis as well as blood pressure regulation and cell proliferation and differentiation that influence organ development and function. In salt-sensitive hypertension, excessive renal salt transport and sympathetic nervous system stimulation may occur simultaneously, and, thus, both the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and the GR-signalling may be implicated or even act interdependently. This review focuses on identified GR mutations in human primary generalized glucocorticoid resistance (PGGR) patients and their related clinical phenotype with specific emphasis on adrenal gland hyperplasia and hypertension. We compare these findings to mouse and rat mutants harbouring genetically engineered mutations to further dissect the cause and/or the consequence of clinical features which are common or different.
Transmembrane potassium (K) gradients are key determinants of membrane potential that can modulate action potentials, control muscle contractility, and influence ion channel and transporter activity. Daily K intake is normally equal to the amount of K in the entire extracellular fluid (ECF) creating a critical challenge — how to maintain ECF [K] and membrane potential in a narrow range during feast and famine. Adaptations to maintain ECF [K] include sensing the K intake, sensing ECF [K] vs. desired set-point and activating mediators that regulate K distribution between ECF and ICF, and regulate renal K excretion. In this focused review, we discuss the basis of these adaptions, including (1) potential mechanisms for rapid feedforward signaling to kidney and muscle after a meal (before a rise in ECF [K]), (2) how skeletal muscles sense and respond to changes in ECF [K], (3) effects of K on aldosterone biosynthesis, and (4) how the kidney responds to changes in ECF [K] to modify K excretion. The concepts of sexual dimorphisms in renal K handling adaptation are introduced, and the molecular mechanisms that can account for the benefits of a K-rich diet to maintain cardiovascular health are discussed. Although the big picture of K homeostasis is becoming more clear, we also highlight significant pieces of the puzzle that remain to be solved, including knowledge gaps in our understanding of initiating signals, sensors and their connection to homeostatic adjustments of ECF [K].
Saving body water by optimal reabsorption of water filtered by the kidney leading to excretion of urine with concentrations of solutes largely above that of plasma allowed vertebrate species to leave the aquatic environment to live on solid ground. Filtered water is reabsorbed for 70% and 20% by proximal tubules and thin descending limbs of Henle, respectively. These two nephron segments express the water channel aquaporin-1 located along both apical and basolateral membranes. In the proximal tubule, the paracellular pathway accounts for at least 30% of water reabsorption, and the tight-junction core protein claudin-2 plays a key role in this permeability. The ascending limb of Henle and the distal convoluted tubule are impermeant to water and are responsible for urine dilution. The water balance is adjusted along the collecting system, i.e. connecting tubule and the collecting duct, under the control of arginine-vasopressin (AVP). AVP is synthesized by the hypothalamus and released in response to an increase in extracellular osmolality or stimulation of baroreceptors by decreased blood pressure. In response to AVP, aquaporin-2 water channels stored in subapical intracellular vesicles are translocated to the apical plasma membrane and raise the water permeability of the collecting system. The basolateral step of water reabsorption is mediated by aquaporin-3 and -4, which are constitutively expressed. Drugs targeting water transport include classical diuretics, which primarily inhibit sodium transport; the new class of SGLT2 inhibitors, which promotes osmotic diuresis and the non-peptidic antagonists of the V2 receptor, which are pure aquaretic drugs. Disturbed water balance includes diabetes insipidus and hyponatremias. Diabetes insipidus is characterized by polyuria and polydipsia. It is either related to a deficit in AVP secretion called central diabetes insipidus that can be treated by AVP analogs or to a peripheral defect in AVP response called nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Diabetes insipidus can be either of genetic origin or acquired. Hyponatremia is a common disorder most often related to free water excess relying on overstimulated or inappropriate AVP secretion. The assessment of blood volume is key for the diagnosis and treatment of hyponatremia, which can be classified as hypo-, eu-, or hypervolemic.
Damage to the proximal tubule (PT) is the most frequent cause of acute kidney injury (AKI) in humans. Diagnostic and treatment options for AKI are currently limited, and a deeper understanding of pathogenic mechanisms at a cellular level is required to rectify this situation. Metabolism in the PT is complex and closely coupled to solute transport function. Recent studies have shown that major changes in PT metabolism occur during AKI and have highlighted some potential targets for intervention. However, translating these insights into effective new therapies still represents a substantial challenge. In this article, in addition to providing a brief overview of the current state of the field, we will highlight three emerging areas that we feel are worthy of greater attention. First, we will discuss the role of axial heterogeneity in cellular function along the PT in determining baseline susceptibility to different metabolic hits. Second, we will emphasize that elucidating insult specific pathogenic mechanisms will likely be critical in devising more personalized treatments for AKI. Finally, we will argue that uncovering links between tubular metabolism and whole-body homeostasis will identify new strategies to try to reduce the considerable morbidity and mortality associated with AKI. These concepts will be illustrated by examples of recent studies emanating from the authors’ laboratories and performed under the auspices of the Swiss National Competence Center for Kidney Research (NCCR Kidney.ch).
Hepatocyte nuclear factor 1β (HNF1β) is a transcription factor essential for the development and function of the kidney. Mutations in and deletions of HNF1β cause autosomal dominant tubule interstitial kidney disease (ADTKD) subtype HNF1β, which is characterized by renal cysts, diabetes, genital tract malformations, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Electrolyte disturbances including hypomagnesemia, hyperuricemia, and hypocalciuria are common in patients with ADTKD-HNF1β. Traditionally, these electrolyte disturbances have been attributed to HNF1β-mediated transcriptional regulation of gene networks involved in ion transport in the distal part of the nephron including FXYD2 , CASR , KCNJ16 , and FXR . In this review, we propose additional mechanisms that may contribute to the electrolyte disturbances observed in ADTKD-HNF1β patients. Firstly, kidney development is severely affected in Hnf1b -deficient mice. HNF1β is required for nephron segmentation, and the absence of the transcription factor results in rudimentary nephrons lacking mature proximal tubule, loop of Henle, and distal convoluted tubule cluster. In addition, HNF1β is proposed to be important for apical-basolateral polarity and tight junction integrity in the kidney. Interestingly, cilia formation is unaffected by Hnf1b defects in several models, despite the HNF1β-mediated transcriptional regulation of many ciliary genes. To what extent impaired nephron segmentation, apical-basolateral polarity, and cilia function contribute to electrolyte disturbances in HNF1β patients remains elusive. Systematic phenotyping of Hnf1b mouse models and the development of patient-specific kidney organoid models will be essential to advance future HNF1β research.
Kidneys are central in the regulation of multiple physiological functions, such as removal of metabolic wastes and toxins, maintenance of electrolyte and fluid balance, and control of pH homeostasis. In addition, kidneys participate in systemic gluconeogenesis and in the production or activation of hormones. Acid–base conditions influence all these functions concomitantly. Healthy kidneys properly coordinate a series of physiological responses in the face of acute and chronic acid–base disorders. However, injured kidneys have a reduced capacity to adapt to such challenges. Chronic kidney disease patients are an example of individuals typically exposed to chronic and progressive metabolic acidosis. Their organisms undergo a series of alterations that brake large detrimental changes in the homeostasis of several parameters, but these alterations may also operate as further drivers of kidney damage. Acid–base disorders lead not only to changes in mechanisms involved in acid–base balance maintenance, but they also affect multiple other mechanisms tightly wired to it. In this review article, we explore the basic renal activities involved in the maintenance of acid–base balance and show how they are interconnected to cell energy metabolism and other important intracellular activities. These intertwined relationships have been investigated for more than a century, but a modern conceptual organization of these events is lacking. We propose that pH homeostasis indissociably interacts with central pathways that drive progression of chronic kidney disease, such as inflammation and metabolism, independent of etiology.
Phosphate is essential in living organisms and its blood levels are regulated by a complex network involving the kidneys, intestine, parathyroid glands, and the skeleton. The crosstalk between these organs is executed primarily by three hormones, calcitriol, parathyroid hormone, and fibroblast growth factor 23. Largely due to a higher intake of ultraprocessed foods, dietary phosphate intake has increased in the last decades. The average intake is now about twice the recommended dietary allowance. Studies investigating the side effect of chronic high dietary phosphate intake suffer from incomplete dietary phosphate assessment and, therefore, often make data interpretation difficult. Renal excretion is quickly adapted to acute and chronic phosphate intake. However, at the high ends of dietary intake, renal adaptation, even in pre-existing normal kidney function, apparently is not perfect. Experimental intervention studies suggest that chronic excess of dietary phosphate can result in sustained higher blood phosphate leading to hyperphosphatemia. Evidence exists that the price of the homeostatic response (phosphaturia in response to phosphate loading/hyperphosphatemia) is an increased risk for declining kidney function, partly due by intraluminal/tubular calcium phosphate particles that provoke renal inflammation. High dietary phosphate intake and hyperphosphatemia are progression factors for declining kidney function and are associated with higher cardiovascular disease and mortality risk. This is best established for pre-existing chronic kidney disease, but epidemiological and experimental data strongly suggest that this holds true for subjects with normal renal function as well. Here, we review the latest advances in phosphate intake and kidney function decline.
The protease renin, the key enzyme of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system, is mainly produced and secreted by juxtaglomerular cells in the kidney, which are located in the walls of the afferent arterioles at their entrance into the glomeruli. When the body’s demand for renin rises, the renin production capacity of the kidneys commonly increases by induction of renin expression in vascular smooth muscle cells and in extraglomerular mesangial cells. These cells undergo a reversible metaplastic cellular transformation in order to produce renin. Juxtaglomerular cells of the renin lineage have also been described to migrate into the glomerulus and differentiate into podocytes, epithelial cells or mesangial cells to restore damaged cells in states of glomerular disease. More recently, it could be shown that renin cells can also undergo an endocrine and metaplastic switch to erythropoietin-producing cells. This review aims to describe the high degree of plasticity of renin-producing cells of the kidneys and to analyze the underlying mechanisms.
Our kidneys receive about one-fifth of the cardiac output at rest and have a low oxygen extraction ratio, but may sustain, under some conditions, hypoxic injuries that might lead to chronic kidney disease. This is due to large regional variations in renal blood flow and oxygenation, which are the prerequisite for some and the consequence of other kidney functions. The concurrent operation of these functions is reliant on a multitude of neuro-hormonal signaling cascades and feedback loops that also include the regulation of renal blood flow and tissue oxygenation. Starting with open questions on regulatory processes and disease mechanisms, we review herein the literature on renal blood flow and oxygenation. We assess the current understanding of renal blood flow regulation, reasons for disparities in oxygen delivery and consumption, and the consequences of disbalance between O 2 delivery, consumption, and removal. We further consider methods for measuring and computing blood velocity, flow rate, oxygen partial pressure, and related parameters and point out how limitations of these methods constitute important hurdles in this area of research. We conclude that to obtain an integrated understanding of the relation between renal function and renal blood flow and oxygenation, combined experimental and computational modeling studies will be needed.
Traditionally, fetuin-A embodies the prototype anti-calcification protein in the blood, preventing cardiovascular calcification. Low serum fetuin-A is generally associated with mineralization dysbalance and enhanced mortality in end stage renal disease. Recent evidence indicates that fetuin-A is a crucial factor moderating tissue inflammation and fibrosis, as well as a systemic indicator of acute inflammatory disease. Here, the expanded function of fetuin-A is discussed in the context of mineralization and inflammation biology. Unbalanced depletion of fetuin-A in this context may be the critical event, triggering a vicious cycle of progressive calcification, inflammation, and tissue injury. Hence, we designate fetuin-A as tissue chaperone and propose the potential use of exogenous fetuin-A as prophylactic agent or emergency treatment in conditions that are associated with acute depletion of endogenous protein.
Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP) released from detrusor smooth muscle (DSM) as the bladder fills acts as an endogenous DSM relaxant to facilitate bladder storage function. Here, the effects of exogenous PTHrP on transient pressure rises (TPRs) in the bladder and associated afferent nerve activity during bladder filling were investigated. In anaesthetized rats, changes in the intravesical pressure were measured while the bladder was gradually filled with saline. Afferent nerve activity was simultaneously recorded from their centrally disconnected left pelvic nerves. In DSM strips, spontaneous and nerve-evoked contractions were isometrically recorded. The distribution of PTHrP receptors (PTHrPRs) in the bladder wall was also examined by fluorescence immunostaining. The bladders in which the contralateral pelvic nerve was also centrally disconnected developed nifedipine, an L-type voltage-dependent Ca²⁺ channel blocker-sensitive TPRs (< 3 mmHg). Intravenous administration of PTHrP suppressed these TPRs and associated bursts of afferent nerve activity. In the bladders with centrally connected contralateral pelvic nerves, atropine, a muscarinic receptor antagonist-sensitive large TPRs (> 3 mmHg) developed in the late filling phase. PTHrP diminished the large TPRs and corresponding surges of afferent nerve activity. In DSM strips, bath-applied PTHrP (10 nM) suppressed spontaneous phasic contractions, while less affecting nerve-evoked contractions. PTHrPRs were expressed in DSM cells but not in intramural nerve fibers. Thus, PTHrP appears to suppress bladder TPRs and associated afferent nerve activity even under the influence of low degree of parasympathetic neural input during storage phases. Endogenous PTHrP may indirectly attenuate afferent nerve activity by suppressing TPRs to facilitate urinary accommodation.
It is common to distinguish between “holist” and “reductionist” views of brain function, where the former envisions the brain as functioning as an indivisible unit and the latter as a collection of distinct units that serve different functions. Opposing reductionism, a number of researchers have pointed out that cortical network architecture does not respect functional boundaries, and the neuroanatomist V. Braitenberg proposed to understand the cerebral cortex as a “great mixing machine” of neuronal activity from sensory inputs, motor commands, and intrinsically generated processes. In this paper, we offer a contextualization of Braitenberg’s point, and we review evidence for the interactions of neuronal activity from multiple sensory inputs and intrinsic neuronal processes in the cerebral cortex. We focus on new insights from studies on audiovisual interactions and on the influence of respiration on brain functions, which do not seem to align well with “reductionist” views of areal functional boundaries. Instead, they indicate that functional boundaries are fuzzy and context dependent. In addition, we discuss the relevance of the influence of sensory, proprioceptive, and interoceptive signals on cortical activity for understanding brain-body interactions, highlight some of the consequences of these new insights for debates on embodied cognition, and offer some suggestions for future studies.
Pregnancy is highly affected by anxiety disorders, which may be treated with benzodiazepines, especially diazepam (DZP), that can cross the placental barrier and interact with the fetal GABAergic system. We tested whether prenatal exposure to DZP promotes sex-specific postnatal changes in the respiratory control of rats. We evaluated ventilation ([Formula: see text]) and oxygen consumption ([Formula: see text] O2) in resting conditions and under hypercapnia (7% CO2) and hypoxia (10% O2) in newborn [postnatal day (P) 0-1 and P12-13)] and young (P21-22) rats from mothers treated with DZP during pregnancy. We also analyzed brainstem monoamines at the same ages. DZP exposure had minimal effects on room air-breathing variables in females, but caused hypoventilation (drop in [Formula: see text]/[Formula: see text] O2) in P12-13 males, lasting until P21-22. The hypercapnic ventilatory response was attenuated in P0-1 and P12-13 DZP-treated females mainly by a decrease in tidal volume (VT), whereas males had a reduction in respiratory frequency (fR) at P12-13. Minor changes were observed in hypoxia, but an attenuation in [Formula: see text] was seen in P12-13 males. In the female brainstem, DZP increased dopamine concentration and decreased 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid (5-HIAA) and the 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC)/dopamine ratio at P0-1, and reduced DOPAC concentration at P12-13. In males, DZP decreased brainstem noradrenaline at P0-1. Our results demonstrate that prenatal DZP exposure reduces CO2 chemoreflex only in postnatal females and does not affect hypoxia-induced hyperventilation in both sexes. In addition, prenatal DZP alters brainstem monoamine concentrations throughout development differently in male and female rats.
More than 50 years ago, it was proposed that breathing shapes pupil dynamics. This widespread idea is also the general understanding currently. However, there has been no attempt at synthesizing the progress on this topic since. We therefore conducted a systematic review of the literature on how breathing affects pupil dynamics in humans. We assessed the effect of breathing phase, depth, rate, and route (nose/mouth). We followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, and conducted a systematic search of the scientific literature databases MEDLINE, Web of Science, and PsycInfo in November 2021. Thirty-one studies were included in the final analyses, and their quality was assessed with QualSyst. The study findings were summarized in a descriptive manner, and the strength of the evidence for each parameter was estimated following the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. The effect of breathing phase on pupil dynamics was rated as “low” (6 studies). The effect of breathing depth and breathing rate (6 and 20 studies respectively) were rated as “very low”. Breathing route was not investigated by any of the included studies. Overall, we show that there is, at best, inconclusive evidence for an effect of breathing on pupil dynamics in humans. Finally, we suggest some possible confounders to be considered, and outstanding questions that need to be addressed, to answer this fundamental question. Trial registration: This systematic review has been registered in the international prospective register of systematic reviews (PROSPERO) under the registration number: CRD42022285044.
We studied the efficacy of a near-infrared laser (1475 nm) to activate rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons with short punctate radiant heat pulses (55 µm diameter) and investigated temporal and spatial summation properties for the transduction process for noxious heat at a subcellular level. Strength-duration curves (10–80 ms range) indicated a minimum power of 30.2mW for the induction of laser-induced calcium transients and a chronaxia of 13.9 ms. However, threshold energy increased with increasing stimulus duration suggesting substantial radial cooling of the laser spot. Increasing stimulus duration demonstrated suprathreshold intensity coding of calcium transients with less than linear gains (Stevens exponents 0.29/35mW, 0.38/60mW, 0.46/70mW). The competitive TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine blocked responses to short near-threshold stimuli and significantly reduced responses to longer duration suprathreshold heat. Heating 1/3 of the soma of a neuron was sufficient to induce calcium transients significantly above baseline ( p < 0.05), but maximum amplitude was only achieved by centering the laser over the entire neuron. Heat-induced calcium increase was highest in heated cell parts but rapidly reached unstimulated areas reminiscent of spreading depolarization and opening of voltage-gated calcium channels. Full intracellular equilibrium took about 3 s, consistent with a diffusion process. In summary, we investigated transduction mechanisms for noxious laser heat pulses in native sensory neurons at milliseconds temporal and subcellular spatial resolution and characterized strength duration properties, intensity coding, and spatial summation within single neurons. Thermal excitation of parts of a nociceptor spread via both membrane depolarization and intracellular calcium diffusion.
Proinflammatory cytokines target vascular endothelial cells during COVID-19 infections. In particular, the endothelial gly-cocalyx (eGC), a proteoglycan-rich layer on top of endothelial cells, was identified as a vulnerable, vasoprotective structure during infections. Thus, eGC damage can be seen as a hallmark in the development of endothelial dysfunction and inflam-matory processes. Using sera derived from patients suffering from COVID-19, we could demonstrate that the eGC became progressively worse in relation to disease severity (mild vs severe course) and in correlation to IL-6 levels. This could be prevented by administering low doses of spironolactone, a well-known and highly specific aldosterone receptor antagonist. Our results confirm that SARS-CoV-2 infections cause eGC damage and endothelial dysfunction and we outline the underlying mechanisms and suggest potential therapeutic options.
Acetylcholine (ACh), which activates muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChRs) and nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs), enhances airway ciliary beating by increasing the intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i). The mechanisms enhancing airway ciliary beating by nAChRs have remained largely unknown, although those by mAChRs are well understood. In this study, we focused on the effects of α7-nAChRs and voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (CaVs) on the airway ciliary beating. The activities of ciliary beating were assessed by frequency (CBF, ciliary beat frequency) and amplitude (CBD, ciliary bend distance) measured by high-speed video microscopy. ACh enhanced CBF and CBD by 25% mediated by an [Ca2+]i increase stimulated by mAChRs and α7-nAChRs (a subunit of nAChR) in airway ciliary cells of mice. Experiments using PNU282987 (an agonist of α7-nAChR) and MLA (an inhibitor of α7-nAChR) revealed that CBF and CBD enhanced by α7-nAChR are approximately 50% of those enhanced by ACh. CBF, CBD, and [Ca2+]i enhanced by α7-nAChRs were inhibited by nifedipine, suggesting activation of CaVs by α7-nAChRs. Experiments using a high K+ solution with/without nifedipine (155.5 mM K+) showed that the activation of CaVs enhances CBF and CBD via an [Ca2+]i increase. Immunofluorescence and immunoblotting studies demonstrated that Cav1.2 and α7-nAChR are expressed in airway cilia. Moreover, IL-13 stimulated MLA-sensitive increases in CBF and CBD in airway ciliary cells, suggesting an autocrine regulation of ciliary beating by CaV1.2/α7-nAChR/ACh. In conclusion, a novel Ca2+ signalling pathway in airway cilia, CaV1.2/α7-nAChR, enhances CBF and CBD and activates mucociliary clearance maintaining healthy airways.
Mitochondrial temperature is produced by various metabolic processes inside the mitochondria, particularly oxidative phos-phorylation. It was recently reported that mitochondria could normally operate at high temperatures that can reach 50℃. The aim of this review is to identify mitochondrial temperature differences between normal cells and cancer cells. Herein, we discussed the different types of mitochondrial thermosensors and their advantages and disadvantages. We reviewed the studies assessing the mitochondrial temperature in cancer cells and normal cells. We shed the light on the factors involved in maintaining the mitochondrial temperature of normal cells compared to cancer cells.
Acute hypoxia impairs left ventricular (LV) inotropic function and induces development of pulmonary edema (PE). Enhanced and uneven hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction is an important pathogenic factor of hypoxic PE. We hypothesized that the potent vasodilator relaxin might reduce hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction and prevent PE formation. Furthermore, as relaxin has shown beneficial effects in acute heart failure, we expected that relaxin might also improve LV inotropic function in hypoxia. Forty-two rats were exposed over 24 h to normoxia or hypoxia (10% N 2 in O 2 ). They were infused with either 0.9% NaCl solution (normoxic/hypoxic controls) or relaxin at two doses (15 and 75 μg kg ⁻¹ day ⁻¹ ). After 24 h, hemodynamic measurements and bronchoalveolar lavage were performed. Lung tissue was obtained for histological and immunohistochemical analyses. Hypoxic control rats presented significant depression of LV systolic pressure by 19% and of left and right ventricular contractility by about 40%. Relaxin did not prevent the hypoxic decrease in LV inotropic function, but re-increased right ventricular contractility. Moreover, hypoxia induced moderate interstitial PE and inflammation in the lung. Contrasting to our hypothesis, relaxin did not prevent hypoxia-induced pulmonary edema and inflammation. In hypoxic control rats, PE was similarly distributed in the apical and basal lung lobes. In relaxin-treated rats, PE index was 35–40% higher in the apical than in the basal lobe, which is probably due to gravity effects. We suggest that relaxin induced exaggerated vasodilation, and hence pulmonary overperfusion. In conclusion, the results show that relaxin does not prevent but rather may aggravate PE formation.
Interleukin 17A (IL-17A) is a candidate mediator of inflammation-driven hypertension, but its direct effect on blood pressure is obscure. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that systemic IL-17A concentration-dependently increases blood pressure and amplifies ANGII-induced hypertension in mice. Blood pressure was measured by indwelling chronic femoral catheters before and during IL-17A infusion w/wo angiotensin II (ANGII, 60ng/kg/min) in male FVB/n mice. Baseline blood pressure was recorded, and three experimental series were conducted: (1) IL-17A infusion with increasing concentrations over 6 days (two series with IL-17A from two vendors, n = 11); (2) ANGII infusion with IL-17A or vehicle for 9 days (n = 11); and (3) acute bolus infusions with four different concentrations (n = 5). Plasma IL-17A and IL-6 concentrations were determined by ELISA. Mean arterial and systolic blood pressures (MAP, SBP) decreased significantly after IL-17A infusion while heart rate was unchanged. In these mice, plasma IL-17A and IL-6 concentrations increased up to 3500- and 2.4-fold, respectively, above baseline. ANGII infusion increased MAP (~ 25 mmHg) and co-infusion of IL-17A attenuated ANGII-induced hypertension by 4.0 mmHg. Here, plasma IL-17A increased 350-fold above baseline. Acute IL-17A bolus infusion did not change blood pressure or heart rate. IL-17A receptor and IL-6 mRNAs were detected in aorta, heart, and kidneys of mice after IL-17A infusion. Nonphysiologically high concentrations of IL-17A reduce baseline blood pressure and increase IL-6 formation in male FVB/n mice. It is concluded that IL-17A is less likely to drive hypertension as the sole cytokine mediator during inflammation in vivo.
Since damage induced by ischemia–reperfusion (I/R) involves alterations in Ca²⁺ homeostasis and is reduced by ischemic postconditioning (IP) and that CoCl2 can trigger changes resembling the response to a hypoxic event in normoxia and its blockade on Ca²⁺ current in heart muscle, our aim was to evaluate CoCl2 as an IP therapeutic tool. Mechanic and energetic parameters of isolated and arterially perfused male Wistar rat heart ventricles were simultaneously analyzed in a model of I/R in which 0.23 mmol/L CoCl2 was introduced upon reperfusion and kept or withdrawn after 20 min or introduced after 20 min of reperfusion. The presence of CoCl2 did not affect diastolic pressure but increased post-ischemic contractile recovery, which peaked at 20 min and decreased at the end of reperfusion. This decrease was prevented when CoCl2 was removed at 20 min of reperfusion. Total heat release increased throughout reperfusion, while economy increased between 15 and 25 min. No effect was observed when CoCl2 was introduced at 20 min of reperfusion. In addition, both the area under the contracture curve evoked by 10 mmol/L caffeine–36 mmol/L Na⁺ and the contracture tension relaxation rate were higher with CoCl2.
Furthermore, CoCl2 decreased the number of arrhythmias during reperfusion and the ventricular damaged area. The presence of CoCl2 in reperfusion induces cardioprotection consistent with the improvement in cellular calcium handling. The use of CoCl2 constitutes a potential cardioprotective tool of clinical relevance.
Mild to moderate-intensity endurance exercise training combined with hind-limb blood flow restriction (BFR) induces elderly heart rejuvenation and improves cardiac inotropy and resistance to ischemia. However, the mediators of these beneficial effects are still not well known. The present study investigated the possible role of some important molecules in the mediatory of this model of exercise training in the promotion of heart health in aged rats. Male old Wistar rats randomly were divided into control-sham (CTL), hind limbs blood flow restriction (BFR), sham-operated plus 10 weeks' treadmill exercise training (Ex), and BFR plus exercise (BFR + Ex) groups. Left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (LVEDP), contractility, and Tau indices were measured. ELISA and western blot tests were used for measuring determined cardiac biochemical factors. BFR + Ex displayed significantly lower LVEDP (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01 vs. Ex, and other groups, respectively), improved heart cardiac contractility (P < 0.01), and significantly reduced Tau index in comparison with other groups. BFR + Ex significantly reduced both BAX and BAX to BCL2 ratio (P < 0.05) and as well MDA to TAC ratio (P < 0.05, compared to the CTL group). Also, BFR + Ex significantly increased the level of klotho (P < 0.05) and PGC1-α (P < 0.001) proteins compared to the CTL group but had no significant effect on P-STAT3 expression. Exercise training alone increased Apelin protein (P < 0.05). Our findings suggest that mild to moderate BFR endurance training improves heart performance in the aging rat partly through ameliorating apoptosis, recovering redox balance, improving the longevity factor klotho, and increasing the key energy metabolism regulator PGC1-α.
Mammalian expression systems, particularly the human embryonic kidney (HEK-293) cells, combined with electrophysiological studies, have greatly benefited our understanding of the function, characteristic, and regulation of various ion channels. It was previously assumed that the existence of endogenous ion channels in native HEK-293 cells could be negligible. Still, more and more ion channels are gradually reported in native HEK-293 cells, which should draw our attention. In this regard, we summarize the different ion channels that are endogenously expressed in HEK-293 cells, including voltage-gated Na⁺ channels, Ca²⁺ channels, K⁺ channels, Cl⁻ channels, nonselective cation channels, TRP channels, acid-sensitive ion channels, and Piezo channels, which may complicate the recording of the heterogeneously expressed ion channels to a certain degree. We noted that the expression patterns and channel profiles varied with different studies, which may be due to the distinct originality of the cells, cell culture conditions, passage numbers, and different recording protocols. Therefore, a better knowledge of endogenous ion channels may help minimize potential problems in characterizing heterologously expressed ion channels. Based on this, it is recommended that HEK-293 cells from unknown sources should be examined before transfection for the characterization of their functional profile, especially when the expression level of exogenous ion channels does not overwhelm the endogenous ion channels largely, or the current amplitude is not significantly higher than the native currents.
Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide–gated (HCN) channels are the molecular correlate of the If current and are critically involved in controlling neuronal excitability and the autonomous rhythm of the heart. The HCN4 isoform is the main HCN channel subtype expressed in the sinoatrial node (SAN), a tissue composed of specialized pacemaker cells responsible for generating the intrinsic heartbeat. More than 40 years ago, the If current was first discovered in rabbit SAN tissue. Along with this discovery, a theory was proposed that cyclic adenosine monophosphate–dependent modulation of If mediates heart rate regulation by the autonomic nervous system—a process called chronotropic effect. However, up to the present day, this classical theory could not be reliably validated. Recently, new concepts emerged confirming that HCN4 channels indeed play an important role in heart rate regulation. However, the cellular mechanism by which HCN4 controls heart rate turned out to be completely different than originally postulated. Here, we review the latest findings regarding the physiological role of HCN4 in the SAN. We describe a newly discovered mechanism underlying heart rate regulation by HCN4 at the tissue and single cell levels, and we discuss these observations in the context of results from previously studied HCN4 mouse models.
How phosphorylation of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) contributes to its regulation is incompletely understood. Previously, we demonstrated that in outside-out patches ENaC activation by serum- and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase isoform 1 (SGK1) was abolished by mutating a serine residue in a putative SGK1 consensus motif RXRXX(S/T) in the channel’s α-subunit (S621 in rat). Interestingly, this serine residue is followed by a highly conserved proline residue rather than by a hydrophobic amino acid thought to be required for a functional SGK1 consensus motif according to invitro data. This suggests that this serine residue is a potential phosphorylation site for the dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylated and regulated kinase 2 (DYRK2), a prototypical proline-directed kinase. Its phosphorylation may prime a highly conserved preceding serine residue (S617 in rat) to be phosphorylated by glycogen synthase kinase 3 β (GSK3β). Therefore, we investigated the effect of DYRK2 on ENaC activity in outside-out patches of Xenopus laevis oocytes heterologously expressing rat ENaC. DYRK2 included in the pipette solution significantly increased ENaC activity. In contrast, GSK3β had an inhibitory effect. Replacing S621 in αENaC with alanine (S621A) abolished the effects of both kinases. A S617A mutation reduced the inhibitory effect of GKS3β but did not prevent ENaC activation by DYRK2. Our findings suggest that phosphorylation of S621 activates ENaC and primes S617 for subsequent phosphorylation by GSK3β resulting in channel inhibition. In proof-of-concept experiments, we demonstrated that DYRK2 can also stimulate ENaC currents in microdissected mouse distal nephron, whereas GSK3β inhibits the currents.
KCNQ channels participate in the physiology of several cell types. In neurons of the central nervous system, the primary subunits are KCNQ2, 3, and 5. Activation of these channels silence the neurons, limiting action potential duration and preventing high-frequency action potential burst. Loss-of-function mutations of the KCNQ channels are associated with a wide spectrum of phenotypes characterized by hyperexcitability. Hence, pharmacological activation of these channels is an attractive strategy to treat epilepsy and other hyperexcitability conditions as are the evolution of stroke and traumatic brain injury. In this work we show that triclosan, a bactericide widely used in personal care products, activates the KCNQ3 channels but not the KCNQ2. Triclosan induces a voltage shift in the activation, increases the conductance, and slows the closing of the channel. The response is independent of PIP2. Molecular docking simulations together with site-directed mutagenesis suggest that the putative binding site is in the voltage sensor domain. Our results indicate that triclosan is a new activator for KCNQ channels.
Renal micropuncture, which requires the direct access to the renal tubules, has for long time been the technique of choice to measure the single nephron glomerular filtration rate (SNGFR) in animal models. This approach is challenging by virtue of complex animal preparation and numerous technically difficult steps. The introduction of intravital multiphoton microscopy (MPM) offers another approach to the measure of the SNGFR by mean of the high laser-tissue penetration and the optical sectioning capacity. Previous MPM studies measuring SNGFR in vivo relied on fast full-frame acquisition during the filtration process obtainable with high performance resonant scanners. In this study, we describe an innovative linescan–based MPM method. The new method can discriminate SNGFR variations both in conditions of low and high glomerular filtration, and shows results comparable to conventional micropuncture both for rats and mice. Moreover, this novel approach has improved spatial and time resolution and is faster than previous methods, thus enabling the investigation of SNGFR from more tubules and improving options for data-analysis.
As a possible body signal influencing brain dynamics, respiration is fundamental for perception, cognition, and emotion. The olfactory system has recently acquired its credentials by proving to be crucial in the transmission of respiratory influence on the brain via the sensitivity to nasal airflow of its receptor cells. Here, we present recent findings evidencing respiration-related activities in the brain. Then, we review the data explaining the fact that breathing is (i) nasal and (ii) being slow and deep is crucial in its ability to stimulate the olfactory system and consequently influence the brain. In conclusion, we propose a possible scenario explaining how this optimal respiratory regime can promote changes in brain dynamics of an olfacto-limbic-respiratory circuit, providing a possibility to induce calm and relaxation by coordinating breathing regime and brain state.
Oxygen is critical for neural metabolism, but under most physiological conditions, oxygen levels in the brain are far more than are required. Oxygen levels can be dynamically increased by increases in respiration rate that are tied to the arousal state of the brain and cognition, and not necessarily linked to exertion by the body. Why these changes in respiration occur when oxygen is already adequate has been a long-standing puzzle. In humans, performance on cognitive tasks can be affected by very high or very low oxygen levels, but whether the physiological changes in blood oxygenation produced by respiration have an appreciable effect is an open question. Oxygen has direct effects on potassium channels, increases the degradation rate of nitric oxide, and is rate limiting for the synthesis of some neuromodulators. We discuss whether oxygenation changes due to respiration contribute to neural dynamics associated with attention and arousal.
The mechanism for limb ischemic precondition (RLIPC)-induced suppression of reperfusion arrhythmia remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the roles of the pro-survival reperfusion injury salvage kinase (RISK) and survivor activating factor enhancement (SAFE) pathways in this RLIPC-mediated antiarrhythmic activity. Male Sprague Dawley rats were assigned to sham-operated, control, or RLIPC groups. All rats except for the sham rats had 5 min of left main coronary artery occlusion with another 20 min of reperfusion. RLIPC was initiated by four cycles of limb ischemia (5 min) and reperfusion (5 min) on the bilateral femoral arteries. Hearts in every group were taken for protein phosphorylation analysis. RLIPC ameliorated reperfusion-induced arrhythmogenesis and reduced the incidence of sudden cardiac death during the entire 20-min reperfusion period (66.7% of control rats had SCD vs. only 16.7% of RLIPC-treated rats). RLIPC enhances ventricular ERK1/2 phosphorylation after reperfusion. RLIPC-induced antiarrhythmic action and ERK1/2 phosphorylation are abolished in the presence of the ERK1/2 inhibitor U0126. Limb ischemic preconditioning protects the heart against myocardial reperfusion injury-induced lethal arrhythmia. These beneficial effects may involve the activation of ERK1/2 in the RISK signaling pathway.
We recently demonstrated that the hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR) is facilitated by the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in catecholaminergic neural networks that likely lie downstream of the carotid bodies within the caudal brainstem. Here, we further subcategorise the neurons involved, by cross-comparison of mice in which the genes encoding the AMPK-α1 (Prkaa1) and AMPK-α2 (Prkaa2) catalytic subunits were deleted in catecholaminergic (TH-Cre) or adrenergic (PNMT-Cre) neurons. As expected, the HVR was markedly attenuated in mice with AMPK-α1/α2 deletion in catecholaminergic neurons, but surprisingly was modestly augmented in mice with AMPK-α1/α2 deletion in adrenergic neurons when compared against a variety of controls (TH-Cre, PNMT-Cre, AMPK-α1/α2 floxed). Moreover, AMPK-α1/α2 deletion in catecholaminergic neurons precipitated marked hypoventilation and apnoea during poikilocapnic hypoxia, relative to controls, while mice with AMPK-α1/α2 deletion in adrenergic neurons entered relative hyperventilation with reduced apnoea frequency and duration. We conclude, therefore, that AMPK-dependent modulation of non-adrenergic networks may facilitate increases in ventilatory drive that shape the classical HVR, whereas AMPK-dependent modulation of adrenergic networks may provide some form of negative feedback or inhibitory input to moderate HVR, which could, for example, protect against hyperventilation-induced hypocapnia and respiratory alkalosis.
Despite numerous studies which have explored the pathogenesis of pain disorders in preclinical models, there is a pronounced translational gap, which is at least partially caused by differences between the human and rodent nociceptive system. An elegant way to bridge this divide is the exploitation of human-induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) reprogramming into human iPSC-derived nociceptors (iDNs). Several protocols were developed and optimized to model nociceptive processes in health and disease. Here we provide an overview of the different approaches and summarize the knowledge obtained from such models on pain pathologies associated with monogenetic sensory disorders so far. In addition, novel perspectives offered by increasing the complexity of the model systems further to better reflect the natural environment of nociceptive neurons by involving other cell types in 3D model systems are described.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are used as traditional remedies to treat hair loss, but the mechanisms underlying their beneficial effects are not well understood. Here, we explored the role of PUFA metabolites generated by the cytochrome P450/soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) pathway in the regulation of the hair follicle cycle. Histological analysis of the skin from wild-type and sEH−/− mice revealed that sEH deletion delayed telogen to anagen transition, and the associated activation of hair follicle stem cells. Interestingly, EdU labeling during the late anagen stage revealed that hair matrix cells from sEH−/− mice proliferated at a greater rate which translated into increased hair growth. Similar effects were observed in in vitro studies using hair follicle explants, where a sEH inhibitor was also able to augment whisker growth in follicles from wild-type mice. sEH activity in the dorsal skin was not constant but altered with the cell cycle, having the most prominent effects on levels of the linoleic acid derivatives 12,13-epoxyoctadecenoic acid (12,13-EpOME), and 12,13-dihydroxyoctadecenoic acid (12,13-DiHOME). Fitting with this, the sEH substrate 12,13-EpOME significantly increased hair shaft growth in isolated anagen stage hair follicles, while its diol; 12,13-DiHOME, had no effect. RNA sequencing of isolated hair matrix cells implicated altered Wnt signaling in the changes associated with sEH deletion. Taken together, our data indicate that the activity of the sEH in hair follicle changes during the hair follicle cycle and impacts on two stem cell populations, i.e., hair follicle stem cells and matrix cells to affect telogen to anagen transition and hair growth.
Investigating atherosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction has mainly become established in genetically modified ApoE−/− or LDL-R−/− mice transgenic models. A new AAV-PCSK9DYDY mouse model with no genetic modification has now been reported as an alternative atherosclerosis model. Here, we aimed to employ this AAV-PCSK9DY mouse model to quantify the mechanical stiffness of the endothelial surface, an accepted hallmark for endothelial dysfunction and forerunner for atherosclerosis. Ten-week-old male C57BL/6 N mice were injected with AAV-PCSK9DY (0.5, 1 or 5 × 10¹¹ VG) or saline as controls and fed with Western diet (1.25% cholesterol) for 3 months. Total cholesterol (TC) and triglycerides (TG) were measured after 6 and 12 weeks. Aortic sections were used for atomic force microscopy (AFM) measurements or histological analysis using Oil-Red-O staining. Mechanical properties of in situ endothelial cells derived from ex vivo aorta preparations were quantified using AFM-based nanoindentation. Compared to controls, an increase in plasma TC and TG and extent of atherosclerosis was demonstrated in all groups of mice in a viral load-dependent manner. Cortical stiffness of controls was 1.305 pN/nm and increased (10%) in response to viral load (≥ 0.5 × 10¹¹ VG) and positively correlated with the aortic plaque content and plasma TC and TG. For the first time, we show changes in the mechanical properties of the endothelial surface and thus the development of endothelial dysfunction in the AAV-PCSK9DY mouse model. Our results demonstrate that this model is highly suitable and represents a good alternative to the commonly used transgenic mouse models for studying atherosclerosis and other vascular pathologies.
Ischemic retinopathies (IR) are vision-threatening diseases that affect a substantial amount of people across all age groups worldwide. The current treatment options of photocoagulation and anti-VEGF therapy have side effects and are occasionally unable to prevent disease progression. It is therefore worthwhile to consider other molecular targets for the development of novel treatment strategies that could be safer and more efficient. During the manifestation of IR, the retina, normally an immune privileged tissue, encounters enhanced levels of cellular stress and inflammation that attract mononuclear phagocytes (MPs) from the blood stream and activate resident MPs (microglia). Activated MPs have a multitude of effects within the retinal tissue and have the potential to both counter and exacerbate the harmful tissue microenvironment. The present review discusses the current knowledge about the role of inflammation and activated retinal MPs in the major IRs: retinopathy of prematurity and diabetic retinopathy. We focus particularly on MPs and their secreted factors and cell–cell-based interactions between MPs and endothelial cells. We conclude that activated MPs play a major role in the manifestation and progression of IRs and could therefore become a promising new target for novel pharmacological intervention strategies in these diseases.
Cancer cells rewire metabolic processes to adapt to the nutrient- and oxygen-deprived tumour microenvironment, thereby promoting their proliferation and metastasis. Previous research has shown that modifying glucose metabolism, the Warburg effect, makes glycolytic cancer cells more invasive and aggressive. Lipid metabolism has also been receiving attention because lipids function as energy sources and signalling molecules. Because obesity is a risk factor for various cancer types, targeting lipid metabolism may be a promising cancer therapy. Here, we review the lipid metabolic reprogramming in cancer cells mediated by hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). HIF-1 is the master transcription factor for tumour growth and metastasis by transactivating genes related to proliferation, survival, angiogenesis, invasion, and metabolism. The glucose metabolic shift (the Warburg effect) is mediated by HIF-1. Recent research on HIF-1-related lipid metabolic reprogramming in cancer has confirmed that HIF-1 also modifies lipid accumulation, β-oxidation, and lipolysis in cancer, triggering its progression. Therefore, targeting lipid metabolic alterations by HIF-1 has therapeutic potential for cancer. We summarize the role of the lipid metabolic shift mediated by HIF-1 in cancer and its putative applications for cancer therapy.
Experimental nephrotic syndrome leads to activation of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) by proteolysis and promotes renal sodium retention. The membrane-anchored serine protease prostasin (CAP1/PRSS8) is expressed in the distal nephron and participates in proteolytic ENaC regulation by serving as a scaffold for other serine proteases. However, it is unknown whether prostasin is also involved in ENaC-mediated sodium retention of experimental nephrotic syndrome. In this study, we used genetically modified knock-in mice with Prss8 mutations abolishing its proteolytic activity (Prss8-S238A) or prostasin activation (Prss8-R44Q) to investigate the development of sodium retention in doxorubicin-induced nephrotic syndrome. Healthy Prss8-S238A and Prss8-R44Q mice had normal ENaC activity as reflected by the natriuretic response to the ENaC blocker triamterene. After doxorubicin injection, all genotypes developed similar proteinuria. In all genotypes, urinary prostasin excretion increased while renal expression was not altered. In nephrotic mice of all genotypes, triamterene response was similarly increased, consistent with ENaC activation. As a consequence, urinary sodium excretion dropped in all genotypes and mice similarly gained body weight by + 25 ± 3% in Prss8-wt, + 20 ± 2% in Prss8-S238A and + 28 ± 3% in Prss8-R44Q mice ( p = 0.16). In Western blots, expression of fully cleaved α- and γ-ENaC was similarly increased in nephrotic mice of all genotypes. In conclusion, proteolytic ENaC activation and sodium retention in experimental nephrotic syndrome are independent of the activation of prostasin and its enzymatic activity and are consistent with the action of aberrantly filtered serine proteases or proteasuria.
The hypokalemic response to alkali infusion has been attributed to the resulting extracellular fluid (ECF) expansion, urinary potassium excretion, and internal potassium shifts, but the dominant mechanism remains uncertain. Hypertonic NaHCO3 infusion (1 N, 5 mmol/kg) to unanesthetized dogs with normal acid-base status or one of the four chronic acid-base disorders decreased plasma potassium concentration ([K⁺]p) at 30 min in all study groups (Δ[K⁺]p, − 0.16 to − 0.73 mmol/L), which remained essentially unaltered up to 90-min postinfusion. ECF expansion accounted for only a small fraction of the decrease in ECF potassium content, (K⁺)e. Urinary potassium losses were large in normals and chronic respiratory acid-base disorders, limited in chronic metabolic alkalosis, and minimal in chronic metabolic acidosis, yet, ongoing kaliuresis did not impact the stability of [K⁺]p. All five groups experienced a reduction in (K⁺)e at 30-min postinfusion, Δ(K⁺)e remaining unchanged thereafter. Intracellular fluid (ICF) potassium content, (K⁺)i, decreased progressively postinfusion in all groups excluding chronic metabolic acidosis, in which a reduction in (K⁺)e was accompanied by an increase in (K⁺)i. We demonstrate that hypokalemia following hypertonic NaHCO3 infusion in intact animals with acidemia, alkalemia, or normal acid-base status and intact or depleted potassium stores is critically dependent on mechanisms of internal potassium balance and not ECF volume expansion or kaliuresis. We envision that the acute NaHCO3 infusion elicits immediate ionic shifts between ECF and ICF leading to hypokalemia. Thereafter, maintenance of a relatively stable, although depressed, [K⁺]e requires that cells release potassium to counterbalance ongoing urinary potassium losses.