Endothelial-dependent dilation following chronic hypoxia involves TRPV4-mediated activation of endothelial BK channels.
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Following chronic hypoxia (CH), the systemic vasculature exhibits blunted vasoconstriction due to endothelial-dependent hyperpolarization (EDH). Previous data demonstrate that subsequent to CH, EDH-mediated vasodilation switches from a reliance on SKca and IKca channels to activation of the endothelial BKca channels (eBK). The mechanism by which endothelial cell stimulation activates eBK channels following CH is not known. We hypothesized that following CH, EDH-dependent vasodilation involves a TRPV4-dependent activation of eBK channels. ACh induced concentration-dependent dilation in pressurized gracilis arteries from both normoxic and CH rats. Inhibition of TRPV4 (RN-1734) attenuated the ACh response in arteries from CH rats but had no effect in normoxic animals. In the presence of L-NNA and indomethacin, TRPV4 blockade attenuated ACh-induced vasodilation in arteries from CH rats. ACh elicited endothelial TRPV4-mediated Ca2+ events in arteries from both groups. GSK1016790A (GSK101, TRPV4 agonist) elicited vasodilation in arteries from normoxic and CH rats. In arteries from normoxic animals, TRAM-34/apamin abolished the dilation to TRPV4 activation, whereas luminal iberiotoxin had no effect. In CH rats, only administration of all three Kca channel inhibitors abolished the dilation to TRPV4 activation. Using Duolink®, we observed co-localization between Cav-1, TRPV4, and BK channels in gracilis arteries and in RAECs. Disruption of endothelial caveolae with methyl-β-cyclodextrin significantly decreased ACh-induced vasodilation in arteries from both groups. In gracilis arteries, endothelial membrane cholesterol was significantly decreased following 48 h of CH. In conclusion, CH results in a functional coupling between muscarinic receptors, TRPV4 and Kca channels in gracilis arteries.