Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation fuels endothelial control of blood vessel tone

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Arteries and veins are lined by non-proliferating endothelial cells that play a critical role in regulating blood flow. Endothelial cells also regulate tissue perfusion, metabolite exchange, and thrombosis. It is thought that endothelial cells rely on ATP generated via glycolysis to fuel each of these energy-demanding processes. However, endothelial metabolism has mainly been studied in the context of proliferative cells in angiogenesis, and little is known about energy production in endothelial cells within the fully-formed vascular wall.

Using intact arteries isolated from rats and mice, we show that inhibiting mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation at mitochondrial complex V disrupts calcium-dependent, nitric oxide-mediated endothelial cell control of vascular tone. Basal, mechanically-activated, and agonist-evoked calcium activity in intact artery endothelial cells are each prevented by inhibiting mitochondrial ATP synthesis. This effect is mimicked by blocking the transport of pyruvate, the master fuel for mitochondrial energy production, through the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier. The role for endothelial cell energy production is independent of species, sex, or vascular bed.

These data show that mitochondrial ATP is necessary for the obligatory role of endothelial cells in the control of blood vessel diameter, and validate the idea of targeting endothelial cell metabolism to treat endothelial cell dysfunction in cardiovascular disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue numberS1
Early online date13 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2022


  • genetics
  • molecular biology
  • biochemistry
  • biotechnology


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