Increased vascular contractility in hypertension results from impaired endothelial calcium signaling

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Endothelial cells line all blood vessels and are critical regulators of vascular tone. In hypertension, disruption of endothelial function alters the release of endothelial-derived vasoactive factors and results in increased vascular tone. Although the release of endothelial-derived vasodilators occurs in a Ca2+-dependent manner, little is known on how Ca2+ signaling is altered in hypertension. A key element to endothelial control of vascular tone is Ca2+ signals at specialized regions (myoendothelial projections) that connect endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. This work describes disruption in the operation of this key Ca2+ signaling pathway in hypertension. We show that vascular reactivity to phenylephrine is increased in hypertensive (spontaneously hypertensive rat) when compared with normotensive (Wistar Kyoto) rats. Basal endothelial Ca2+ activity limits vascular contraction, but that Ca2+-dependent control is impaired in hypertension. When changes in endothelial Ca2+ levels are buffered, vascular contraction to phenylephrine increased, resulting in similar responses in normotension and hypertension. Local endothelial IP3(inositol trisphosphate)-mediated Ca2+ signals are smaller in amplitude, shorter in duration, occur less frequently, and arise from fewer sites in hypertension. Spatial control of endothelial Ca2+ signaling is also disrupted in hypertension: local Ca2+ signals occur further from myoendothelial projections in hypertension. The results demonstrate that the organization of local Ca2+ signaling circuits occurring at myoendothelial projections is disrupted in hypertension, giving rise to increased contractile responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1200-1214
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Early online date23 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • blood pressure
  • calcium
  • endothelial cells
  • hypertension
  • phenylephrine


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