Cigarette smoke exposure up-regulates endothelin receptor B in human pulmonary artery endothelial cells: molecular and functional consequences


Javier Milara, Unidad de Investigación, Consorcio Hospital General Universitario, Avenida tres cruces s/n, E-46014 Valencia, Spain. E-mail:


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Pulmonary arteries from smokers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients show abnormal endothelium-dependent vascular reactivity. We studied the effect of cigarette smoke extract (CSE) on endothelin receptor B (ETB) expression in human pulmonary artery endothelial cells (HPAECs) and its role in endothelial dysfunction.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH ETB receptor expression was measured by real time RT-PCR, Western blot and immunofluorescence. Cell contraction, intracellular Ca2+, F/G-actin, RhoA activity, myosin light chain phosphorylation, ET, NO, thromboxane (Tx)A2 and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were measured by traction microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, phalloidin fluorescence, colorimetric assay, Western blot, elisa and DCFDA fluorescence respectively.

KEY RESULTS Cigarette smoke extract dose-dependently increased ETB receptor expression in HPAECs after 24 h incubation. CSE-induced ETB expression was attenuated by bosentan, the ETB receptor antagonist BQ788, the Rho kinase antagonist Y27632 and the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. A monoclonal antibody to ET-1 prevented CSE-induced ETB receptor overexpression. Twenty-four hour exposure to ET-1 dose-dependently increased ETB receptor expression, mimicking the effect of CSE. CSE-induced ETB receptor overexpression caused greater cell contraction; increased intracellular Ca2+; increased F/G-actin and RhoA activity; increased myosin light chain phosphorylation; augmented TxA2 and ROS production; and decreased NO after acute ET-1 (10 nM). These effects were attenuated by bosentan, BQ788, Y27632 and N-acetylcysteine.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATION Cigarette smoke extract induced ETB receptor overexpression by a feed forward mechanism mediated partly by ET release, promoting HPAEC dysfunction and attenuated by ETB receptor blockade, Rho kinase and ROS inhibition. These results provide support for the use of bosentan in CS-related endothelial dysfunction.