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Nanomolar ouabain increases NCX1 expression and enhances Ca2+ signaling in human arterial myocytes: a mechanism that links salt to increased vascular resistance?

  • Linde, Cristina I
  • Antos, Laura K
  • Golovina, Vera A
  • Blaustein, Mordecai P
Published Article
American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2012
DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00399.2012
PMID: 22842068


The mechanisms by which NaCl raises blood pressure (BP) in hypertension are unresolved, but much evidence indicates that endogenous ouabain is involved. In rodents, arterial smooth muscle cell (ASMC) Na(+) pumps with an α(2)-catalytic subunit (ouabain EC(50) ≤1.0 nM) are crucial for some hypertension models, even though ≈80% of ASMC Na(+) pumps have an α(1)-subunit (ouabain EC(50) ≈ 5 μM). Human α(1)-Na(+) pumps, however, have high ouabain affinity (EC(50) ≈ 10-20 nM). We used immunoblotting, immunocytochemistry, and Ca(2+) imaging (fura-2) to examine the expression, distribution, and function of Na(+) pump α-subunit isoforms in human arteries and primary cultured human ASMCs (hASMCs). hASMCs express α(1)- and α(2)-Na(+) pumps. Further, α(2)-, but not α(1)-, pumps are confined to plasma membrane microdomains adjacent to sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), where they colocalize with Na/Ca exchanger-1 (NCX1) and C-type transient receptor potential-6 (receptor-operated channels, ROCs). Prolonged inhibition (72 h) with 100 nM ouabain (blocks nearly all α(1)- and α(2)-pumps) was toxic to most cultured hASMCs. Treatment with 10 nM ouabain (72 h), however, increased NCX1 and sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPase expression and augmented ATP (10 μM)-induced SR Ca(2+) release in 0 Ca(2+), ouabain-free media, and Ca(2+) influx after external Ca(2+) restoration. The latter was likely mediated primarily by ROCs and store-operated Ca(2+) channels. These hASMC protein expression and Ca(2+) signaling changes are comparable with previous observations on myocytes isolated from arteries of many rat hypertension models. We conclude that the same structurally and functionally coupled mechanisms (α(2)-Na(+) pumps, NCX1, ROCs, and the SR) regulate Ca(2+) homeostasis and signaling in hASMCs and rodent ASMCs. These ouabain/endogenous ouabain-modulated mechanisms underlie the whole body autoregulation associated with increased vascular resistance and elevation of BP in human, salt-sensitive hypertension.

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