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Hypoxia-induced responses of porcine pulmonary veins.

Arnold, Amy



Stuart F. Cruickshank

Helene Widmer

Iain Rowe


The pulmonary vein (PV) constricts to hypoxia however little is known about the underlying mechanisms. Hypoxic PV constriction is proposed to recruit upstream capillary beds and optimise gas exchange in healthy humans and may play a role in high altitude pulmonary oedema. The PV is also intrinsic to disease states including pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary veno-occlusive disease. Blood vessel culture can be a powerful tool to enable assessment of the impact of environmental factors on vessel function and as a disease model. However culture conditions alone affect vessel contractility; the effect of culture conditions on PV function remained to be established. The aim of this project was to investigate hypoxic responses of porcine PVs including the impact of maintenance in culture. Maintenance of PVs in culture conditions for 24 hours increased contraction to hypoxia and inhibited hypoxic relaxation post-contraction. These changes to PV hypoxic responses were thought to result from endothelial dysfunction. However, the endothelial nitric oxide synthase inhibitor L-NAME inhibited PV hypoxic contraction and enhanced relaxation. The impact of K+ channel inhibitors on hypoxic contraction was also investigated. Penitrem A, 4AP, DPO-1, ZnCl2 and glyburide had no significant effect however TEA and BDM inhibited the hypoxic contraction. This suggested that TASK, KV1.5, BKCa and KATP do not play a role in the mechanism of hypoxic pulmonary venoconstriction however KV channels containing KV2.1 α subunits may modulate the response. Results with L-NAME suggested endothelial dysfunction may not fully account for the change in PV function after exposure to culture. Therefore the impact of PV maintenance in culture was further explored using an isolated PV smooth muscle cell (PVSMC) model. Maintenance of PVs in culture conditions had minimal impact on morphology and electrical properties of PVSMCs. Notably, resting membrane potential and hypoxia-induced depolarisation were not significantly different. Based on the findings of this study, the endothelium in PVs appears to a) play a major role in modulation of the hypoxic response b) be sensitive to short-term exposure to culture conditions. K+ channels appear to play a minor role in PV hypoxic contraction and SMCs isolated from PVs maintained in culture conditions have similar morphological and electrophysiological characteristics to freshly isolated PVSMCs. Taking all this into account, endothelial regulation of contractility should be a key focus for future PV research.


ARNOLD, A. 2017. Hypoxia-induced responses of porcine pulmonary veins. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 14, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 14, 2017
Keywords Hypoxia; Pulmonary vein; Potassium channels; Nitric oxide; Vasoconstriction; Smooth muscle cells; Blood vessel culture; Endothelium
Public URL
Award Date Jan 31, 2017


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