Author(s): Chen J, He L, Dinger B, Stensaas L, Fidone S
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Abstract Chronic exposure in a low-PO(2) environment (i.e., chronic hypoxia, CH) elicits an elevated hypoxic ventilatory response and increased hypoxic chemosensitivity in arterial chemoreceptors in the carotid body. In the present study, we examine the hypothesis that changes in chemosensitivity are mediated by endothelin (ET), a 21-amino-acid peptide, and ET(A) receptors, both of which are normally expressed by O(2)-sensitive type I cells. Immunocytochemical staining showed incremental increases in ET and ET(A) expression in type I cells after 3, 7, and 14 days of CH (380 Torr). Peptide and receptor upregulation was confirmed in quantitative RT-PCR assays conducted after 14 days of CH. In vitro recordings of carotid sinus nerve activity after in vivo exposure to CH for 1-16 days demonstrated a time-dependent increase in chemoreceptor activity evoked by acute hypoxia. In normal carotid body, the specific ET(A) antagonist BQ-123 (5 microM) inhibited 11\% of the nerve discharge elicited by hypoxia, and after 3 days of CH the drug diminished the hypoxia-evoked discharge by 20\% (P < 0.01). This inhibitory effect progressed to 45\% at day 9 of CH and to nearly 50\% after 12, 14, and 16 days of CH. Furthermore, in the presence of BQ-123, the magnitude of the activity evoked by hypoxia did not differ in normal vs. CH preparations, indicating that the increased activity was the result of endogenous ET acting on an increasing number of ET(A). Collectively, our data suggest that ET and ET(A) autoreceptors on O(2)-sensitive type I cells play a critical role in CH-induced increased chemosensitivity in the rat carotid body.
This article was published in Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol
and referenced in Journal of Pulmonary & Respiratory Medicine