Elevated TNF-α levels in serum and broncho-alveolar lavage fluid of acute lung injury patients correlate with mortality rates. We hypothesized that pharmacological plasma membrane potential (Em) hyperpolarization protects against TNF-α-induced CCL-2 and IL-6 secretion from human pulmonary endothelial cells through inhibition of inflammatory Ca2+-dependent MAPK pathways. Since the role of Ca2+ influx in TNF-α-mediated inflammation remains poorly understood, we explored the role of L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ (CaV) channels in TNF-α-induced CCL-2 and IL-6 secretion from human pulmonary endothelial cells. The CaV channel blocker, Nifedipine, decreased both CCL-2 and IL-6 secretion, suggesting that a fraction of CaV channels is open at the significantly depolarized resting Em of human microvascular pulmonary endothelial cells (−6 ± 1.9 mV), as shown by whole-cell patch-clamp measurements. To further explore the role of CaV channels in cytokine secretion, we demonstrated that the beneficial effects of Nifedipine could also be achieved by Em hyperpolarization via the pharmacological activation of large conductance K+ (BK) channels with NS1619, which elicited a similar decrease in CCL-2 but not IL-6 secretion. Using functional gene enrichment analysis tools, we predicted and validated that known Ca2+-dependent kinases, JNK-1/2 and p38, are the most likely pathways to mediate the decrease in CCL-2 secretion.
- L-type voltage-gated Ca channels
- endothelial cells
- large conductance K channels
- lung inflammation
- pathway analysis