Characterisation of Weibel-Palade body fusion by amperometry in endothelial cells reveals fusion pore dynamics and the effect of cholesterol on exocytosis

Emma A Cookson, Ianina L Conte, John Dempster, Matthew J Hannah, Tom Carter

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Regulated secretion from endothelial cells is mediated by Weibel-Palade body (WPB) exocytosis. Plasma membrane cholesterol is implicated in regulating secretory granule exocytosis and fusion pore dynamics; however, its role in modulating WPB exocytosis is not clear. To address this we combined high-resolution electrochemical analysis of WPB fusion pore dynamics, by amperometry, with high-speed optical imaging of WPB exocytosis following cholesterol depletion or supplementation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We identified serotonin (5-HT) immunoreactivity in WPBs, and VMAT1 expression allowing detection of secreted 5-HT as discrete current spikes during exocytosis. A high proportion of spikes (∼75%) had pre-spike foot signals, indicating that WPB fusion proceeds via an initial narrow pore. Cholesterol depletion significantly reduced pre-spike foot signal duration and increased the rate of fusion pore expansion, whereas cholesterol supplementation had broadly the reverse effect. Cholesterol depletion slowed the onset of hormone-evoked WPB exocytosis, whereas its supplementation increased the rate of WPB exocytosis and hormone-evoked proregion secretion. Our results provide the first analysis of WPB fusion pore dynamics and highlight an important role for cholesterol in the regulation of WPB exocytosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5490-5499
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue numberPt 23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • exocytosis
  • weibel–palade bodies
  • endothelial cell
  • VMAT1
  • serotonin
  • amperometry
  • characterisation

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