ROK contribution to endothelin-mediated contraction in aorta and mesenteric arteries following intermittent hypoxia/hypercapnia in rats. Academic Article uri icon


  • We reported previously that intermittent hypoxia with CO(2) to maintain eucapnia (IH-C) elevates plasma endothelin-1 (ET-1) and arterial pressure. In small mesenteric arteries (sMA; inner diameter = 150 microm), IH-C augments ET-1 constrictor sensitivity but diminishes ET-1-induced increases in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration, suggesting IH-C exposure increases both ET-1 levels and ET-1-stimulated Ca(2+) sensitization. Because Rho-associated kinase (ROK) can mediate Ca(2+) sensitization, we hypothesized that augmented vasoconstrictor sensitivity to ET-1 in arteries from IH-C-exposed rats is dependent on ROK activation. In thoracic aortic rings, ET-1 contraction was not different between groups, but ROK inhibition (Y-27632, 3 and 10 microM) attenuated ET-1 contraction more in IH-C than in sham arteries (50 +/- 11 and 78 +/- 7% vs. 41 +/- 12 and 48 +/- 9% inhibition, respectively). Therefore, ROK appears to contribute more to ET-1 contraction in IH-C than in sham aorta. In sMA, ROK inhibitors did not affect ET-1-mediated constriction in sham arteries and only modestly inhibited it in IH-C arteries. In ionomycin-permeabilized sMA with intracellular Ca(2+) concentration held at basal levels, Y-27632 did not affect ET-1-mediated constriction in either IH-C or sham sMA and ET-1 did not stimulate ROK translocation. In contrast, inhibition of myosin light-chain kinase (ML-9, 100 microM) prevented ET-1-mediated constriction in sMA from both groups. Therefore, IH-C exposure increases ET-1 vasoconstrictor sensitivity in sMA but not in aorta. Furthermore, ET-1 constriction is myosin light-chain kinase dependent and mediated by Ca(2+) sensitization that is independent of ROK activation in sMA but not aorta. Thus ET-1-mediated signaling in aorta and sMA is altered by IH-C but is dependent on different second messenger systems in small vs. large arteries.

publication date

  • November 2007