PubMed 11350792

Title: Potassium channels regulate tone in rat pulmonary veins.

Authors: E D Michelakis, E K Weir, X Wu, A Nsair, R Waite, K Hashimoto, L Puttagunta, H G Knaus, S L Archer

Journal, date & volume: Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell Mol. Physiol., 2001 Jun , 280, L1138-47

PubMed link:

Intrapulmonary veins (PVs) contribute to pulmonary vascular resistance, but the mechanisms controlling PV tone are poorly understood. Although smooth muscle cell (SMC) K(+) channels regulate tone in most vascular beds, their role in PV tone is unknown. We show that voltage-gated (K(V)) and inward rectifier (K(ir)) K(+) channels control resting PV tone in the rat. PVs have a coaxial structure, with layers of cardiomyocytes (CMs) arrayed externally around a subendothelial layer of typical SMCs, thus forming spinchterlike structures. PVCMs have both an inward current, inhibited by low-dose Ba(2+), and an outward current, inhibited by 4-aminopyridine. In contrast, PVSMCs lack inward currents, and their outward current is inhibited by tetraethylammonium (5 mM) and 4-aminopyridine. Several K(V), K(ir), and large-conductance Ca(2+)-sensitive K(+) channels are present in PVs. Immunohistochemistry showed that K(ir) channels are present in PVCMs and PV endothelial cells but not in PVSMCs. We conclude that K(+) channels are present and functionally important in rat PVs. PVCMs form sphincters rich in K(ir) channels, which may modulate venous return both physiologically and in disease states including pulmonary edema.