Publications by authors named "Xavier Gasull"

51 Publications

GlialCAM, a protein defective in a leukodystrophy, serves as a ClC-2 Cl(-) channel auxiliary subunit.

Neuron 2012 Mar;73(5):951-61

Istituto di Biofisica, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, 16149 Genoa, Italy.

Ion fluxes mediated by glial cells are required for several physiological processes such as fluid homeostasis or the maintenance of low extracellular potassium during high neuronal activity. In mice, the disruption of the Cl(-) channel ClC-2 causes fluid accumulation leading to myelin vacuolation. A similar vacuolation phenotype is detected in humans affected with megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy with subcortical cysts (MLC), a leukodystrophy which is caused by mutations in MLC1 or GLIALCAM. We here identify GlialCAM as a ClC-2 binding partner. GlialCAM and ClC-2 colocalize in Bergmann glia, in astrocyte-astrocyte junctions at astrocytic endfeet around blood vessels, and in myelinated fiber tracts. GlialCAM targets ClC-2 to cell junctions, increases ClC-2 mediated currents, and changes its functional properties. Disease-causing GLIALCAM mutations abolish the targeting of the channel to cell junctions. This work describes the first auxiliary subunit of ClC-2 and suggests that ClC-2 may play a role in the pathology of MLC disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2011.12.039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3334819PMC
March 2012

TRESK channel contribution to nociceptive sensory neurons excitability: modulation by nerve injury.

Mol Pain 2011 Apr 28;7:30. Epub 2011 Apr 28.

Neurophysiology Lab, Dept, Physiological Sciences I, Medical School, University of Barcelona-Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, Spain.

Background: Neuronal hyperexcitability is a crucial phenomenon underlying spontaneous and evoked pain. In invertebrate nociceptors, the S-type leak K(+) channel (analogous to TREK-1 in mammals) plays a critical role of in determining neuronal excitability following nerve injury. Few data are available on the role of leak K(2P) channels after peripheral axotomy in mammals.

Results: Here we describe that rat sciatic nerve axotomy induces hyperexcitability of L4-L5 DRG sensory neurons and decreases TRESK (K2P18.1) expression, a channel with a major contribution to total leak current in DRGs. While the expression of other channels from the same family did not significantly change, injury markers ATF3 and Cacna2d1 were highly upregulated. Similarly, acute sensory neuron dissociation (in vitro axotomy) produced marked hyperexcitability and similar total background currents compared with neurons injured in vivo. In addition, the sanshool derivative IBA, which blocked TRESK currents in transfected HEK293 cells and DRGs, increased intracellular calcium in 49% of DRG neurons in culture. Most IBA-responding neurons (71%) also responded to the TRPV1 agonist capsaicin, indicating that they were nociceptors. Additional evidence of a biological role of TRESK channels was provided by behavioral evidence of pain (flinching and licking), in vivo electrophysiological evidence of C-nociceptor activation following IBA injection in the rat hindpaw, and increased sensitivity to painful pressure after TRESK knockdown in vivo.

Conclusions: In summary, our results clearly support an important role of TRESK channels in determining neuronal excitability in specific DRG neurons subpopulations, and show that axonal injury down-regulates TRESK channels, therefore contributing to neuronal hyperexcitability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1744-8069-7-30DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3095542PMC
April 2011

Acid-sensing ion channels in postoperative pain.

J Neurosci 2011 Apr;31(16):6059-66

Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Unité Mixte de Recherche 6097 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, 06560 Valbonne, France.

Iatrogenic pain consecutive to a large number of surgical procedures has become a growing health concern. The etiology and pathophysiology of postoperative pain are still poorly understood, but hydrogen ions appear to be important in this process. We have investigated the role of peripheral acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), which form depolarizing channels activated by extracellular protons, in a rat model of postoperative pain (i.e., hindpaw skin/muscle incision). We report high levels of ASIC-type currents (∼ 77%) in sensory neurons innervating the hindpaw muscles, with a prevalence of ASIC3-like currents. The ASIC3 protein is largely expressed in lumbar DRG neurons innervating the plantar muscle, and its mRNA and protein levels are increased by plantar incision 24 h after surgery. Pharmacological inhibition of ASIC3 channels with the specific toxin APETx2 or in vivo knockdown of ASIC3 subunit by small interfering RNA led to a significant reduction of postoperative spontaneous, thermal, and postural pain behaviors (spontaneous flinching, heat hyperalgesia, and weight bearing). ASIC3 appears to have an important role in deep tissue but also affects prolonged pain evoked by skin incision alone. The specific homomeric ASIC1a blocker PcTx1 has no effect on spontaneous flinching, when applied peripherally. Together, these data demonstrate a significant role for peripheral ASIC3-containing channels in postoperative pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5266-10.2011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6632959PMC
April 2011

Phosphoinositide-3-kinase activation controls synaptogenesis and spinogenesis in hippocampal neurons.

J Neurosci 2011 Feb;31(8):2721-33

Structural Synaptic Plasticity Lab, Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Centro de Investigación Biomédica de la Rioja, La Rioja 26006, Spain.

The possibility of changing the number of synapses may be an important asset in the treatment of neurological diseases. In this context, the synaptogenic role of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling cascade has been previously demonstrated in Drosophila. This study shows that treatment with a PI3K-activating transduction peptide is able to promote synaptogenesis and spinogenesis in primary cultures of rat hippocampal neurons, as well as in CA1 hippocampal neurons in vivo. In culture, the peptide increases synapse density independently of cell density, culture age, dendritic complexity, or synapse type. The induced synapses also increase neurotransmitter release from cultured neurons. The synaptogenic signaling pathway includes PI3K-Akt. Furthermore, the treatment is effective on adult neurons, where it induces spinogenesis and enhances the cognitive behavior of treated animals in a fear-conditioning assay. These findings demonstrate that functional synaptogenesis can be induced in mature mammalian brains through PI3K activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4477-10.2011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6623769PMC
February 2011

Glaucoma patients present increased levels of diadenosine tetraphosphate, Ap(4)A, in the aqueous humour.

Exp Eye Res 2011 Mar 10;92(3):221-6. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

Hospital Sagrat Cor-ICR, Barcelona, Spain.

Previous studies have shown the presence of diadenosine tetraphosphate (Ap(4)A) and pentaphosphate (Ap(5)A) in the aqueous humour (AH) of different species. When topically applied to the rabbit cornea, Ap(4)A decreased IOP while Ap(5)A increased it. Here we study the presence of dinucleoside polyphosphates in the AH from human patients with or without glaucoma. AH was obtained at the time of cataract surgery from patients with (n=16) or without (n=10) primary open-angle glaucoma. AH (0.1-0.2 ml) was collected at the beginning of surgery through a corneal paracentesis and immediately cooled in liquid nitrogen, kept frozen and protected from light. AH aliquots were analyzed by HPLC for the presence of Ap(4)A and Ap(5)A. Both, Ap(4)A and Ap(5)A were detected in the AH of both experimental groups. No significant differences were found for Ap(5)A. In contrast, Ap(4)A levels were increased by ∼15-fold in the AH from glaucomatous eyes ranging from 19.5±9.2 nM in normal individuals to 286.03±30.9 nM in glaucomatous patients. In conclusion, both Ap(4)A and Ap(5)A were detected for the first time in human AH. Interestingly, glaucomatous eyes presented elevated concentrations of Ap(4)A compared to controls. The role of Ap(4)A needs to be elucidated but it may help to protect the autonomic innervation in the ciliary body/trabecular meshwork. Also, because of its higher levels in glaucoma patients it may be considered as a possible glaucoma biomarker.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exer.2010.12.004DOI Listing
March 2011

Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs): pharmacology and implication in pain.

Pharmacol Ther 2010 Dec 31;128(3):549-58. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IPMC), UMR 6097 CNRS/Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis (UNS), 660, route des Lucioles, 06560 Valbonne, France.

Tissue acidosis is a common feature of many painful conditions. Protons are indeed among the first factors released by injured tissues, inducing a local pH fall that depolarizes peripheral free terminals of nociceptors and leads to pain. ASICs are excitatory cation channels directly gated by extracellular protons that are expressed in the nervous system. In sensory neurons, they act as "chemo-electrical" transducers and are involved in somatic and visceral nociception. Two highly specific inhibitory peptides isolated from animal venoms have considerably helped in the understanding of the physiological roles of these channels in pain. At the peripheral level, ASIC3 is important for inflammatory pain. Its expression and its activity are potentiated by several pain mediators present in the "inflammatory soup" that sensitize nociceptors. ASICs have also been involved in some aspects of mechanosensation and mechanonociception, notably in the gastrointestinal tract, but the underlying mechanisms remain to be determined. At the central level, ASIC1a is largely expressed in spinal cord neurons where it has been proposed to participate in the processing of noxious stimuli and in central sensitization. Blocking ASIC1a in the spinal cord also produces a potent analgesia in a broad range of pain conditions through activation of the opiate system. Targeting ASIC channels at different levels of the nervous system could therefore be an interesting strategy for the relief of pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2010.08.006DOI Listing
December 2010

Effects of platelet-derived growth factor on aqueous humor dynamics.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2009 Aug 8;50(8):3833-9. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

Department of Physiological Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Purpose: It is well known that the small GTPase RhoA modulates actin cytoskeleton and cellular contractility in the trabecular meshwork (TM). Several substances known to contract the TM reduce outflow facility, whereas cellular relaxation is commonly associated with the opposite effect. Inhibitors of the RhoA pathway are under development as antiglaucoma drugs. Here the authors investigate the role of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), a known activator of the Rac1 pathway, in cell cytoskeleton, outflow facility, and intraocular pressure (IOP).

Methods: Effects of PDGF on actin cytoskeleton, Rac1, and AKT activation were tested in preconfluent and confluent bovine TM cells in culture. Rac1 and AKT/P-AKT activation were assessed by Western blot analysis. Trabecular outflow facility was measured in bovine perfused anterior segments. Changes in IOP were measured for up to 6 hours after topical application in the cornea of rabbit eyes by means of a contact tonometer.

Results: In TM cells, PDGF (10 ng/mL) activated Rac1 through AKT and induced actin cytoskeleton rearrangement with lamellipodia formation. In this sense, lamellipodia formation in TM cells was prevented by NSC23766, a Rac1 inhibitor, and LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor. In perfused anterior segments, PDGF (100 ng/mL) increased trabecular outflow facility by 26%. In vivo, when topically applied to rabbit corneas, PDGF induced a 20% decrease in IOP (100 ng/mL). This reduction was concentration dependent and presented an EC(50) value of 2.7 nM.

Conclusions: PDGF, by activating the Rac1 pathway, induces cytoskeletal changes in TM cells that enhance outflow facility. Decreased IOP after PDGF application is likely caused by the facilitation of aqueous humor outflow. Rac1 pathway activation appears to be a positive modulator of outflow facility and an interesting target for decreasing IOP after ocular hypertension.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.08-2924DOI Listing
August 2009

Activation of store-operated Ca(2+) channels in trabecular meshwork cells.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2008 Feb;49(2):677-86

Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Purpose: In nonexcitable cells, G(q)-coupled membrane receptor activation induces a biphasic increase in intracellular calcium ([Ca(2+)](i)) expressed as an initial IP(3)-dependent release from intracellular stores followed by a sustained Ca(2+) influx from the extracellular space that involves store-operated Ca(2+) channels (SOCs). In trabecular meshwork (TM) cells, contractile agonists such as bradykinin (BK) and endothelin-1 (ET-1) induce this type of Ca(2+) signaling. Given that trabecular outflow is modified by tissue contractility, the authors characterized SOCs and studied their participation in TM cell contractility.

Methods: [Ca(2+)](i) was measured in cultured bovine TM cells loaded with Fura-2. Ca(2+) currents were recorded using the patch clamp technique. Cell contractility measurements were assessed by traction microscopy.

Results: BK and ET-1 activate a store-operated Ca(2+) entry that was greatly reduced in the absence of extracellular Ca(2+) or by preincubation with SOC blocker 2-APB or SKF96365. Store-operated Ca(2+) currents were also activated by intracellular dialysis with IP(3) + EGTA or after stimulation with thapsigargin. Electrophysiological characterization supports the presence of Ca(2+) release-activated Ca(2+) channels (CRACs) and nonselective cation channels, of which TRPC1 and TRPC4 channels may be candidate TRPs detected in TM cells. Extracellular Ca(2+) entry through SOCs is not required for TM cell contraction in response to BK or ET-1, but it modulates this process.

Conclusions: Extracellular Ca(2+) entry in TM cells in response to agonist stimulation and store-depletion is mediated by the activation of SOCs, which do not contribute to cell contraction but which may activate regulatory mechanisms to prevent excessive contraction. CRAC and TRPC channels involved represent interesting modulators of TM function to improve aqueous humor outflow.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.07-1080DOI Listing
February 2008

Profilin induces lamellipodia by growth factor-independent mechanism.

FASEB J 2008 May 9;22(5):1581-96. Epub 2008 Jan 9.

IDIBAPS-Department of Physiological Sciences I, Facultad de Medicina-University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Profilin has been implicated in cell motility and in a variety of cellular processes, such as membrane extension, endocytosis, and formation of focal complexes. In vivo, profilin replenish the pool of ATP-actin monomers by increasing the rate of nucleotide exchange of ADP-actin for ATP-actin, promoting the incorporation of new actin monomers at the barbed end of actin filaments. For this report, we generated a membrane-permeable version of profilin I (PTD4-PfnI) for the alteration of intracellular profilin levels taking advantage of the protein transduction technique. We show that profilin I induces lamellipodia formation independently of growth factor presence in primary bovine trabecular meshwork (BTM) cells. The effects are time- and concentration-dependent and specific to the profilin I isoform. Profilin II, the neuronal isoform, failed to extend lamellipodia in the same degree as profilin I. H133S, a mutation in the polyproline binding domain, showed a reduced ability to induce lamellipodia. H199E, mutation in the actin binding domain failed to induce membrane spreading and inhibit fetal bovine serum (FBS) -induced lamellipodia extension. Incubation with a synthetic polyproline domain peptide (GP5)3, fused to a transduction domain, abolished lamellipodia induction by profilin or FBS. Time-lapse microscopy confirmed the effects of profilin on lamellipodia extension with a higher spreading velocity than FBS. PTD4-Pfn I was found in the inner lamellipodia domain, at the membrane leading edge where it colocalizes with endogenous profilin. While FBS-induced lamellipodia formation activates Rac1, PTD4-Pfn I stimulation did not induce Rac1 activation. We propose a role of profilin I favoring lamellipodia formation by a mechanism downstream of growth factor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.06-7654comDOI Listing
May 2008

Hypotensive effect of profilin on rabbit intraocular pressure.

Eur J Pharmacol 2007 Jul 22;567(1-2):145-8. Epub 2007 Apr 22.

Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Department of Physiological Sciences I, Institute of Biomedical Investigations August Pi I Sunyer (IDIBAPS), School of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Casanova 143, E-08036 Barcelona, Spain.

Ocular hypertension is a negative process that occurs within the eye and is the main risk factor to develop glaucoma, a progressive loss of vision due to degeneration of retinal ganglion cells. The protein transduction technique allows a cargo to cross biological membranes. Using this technique we have previously shown that a membrane permeable version of profilin I (PTD4-profilin) increased aqueous humour outflow facility. Here we have investigated if a topical application of PTD4-profilin was able to modify intraocular pressure in rabbits. 10 microM PTD4-profilin (10 microL), reduced intraocular pressure by 20% compared to the control vehicle, this value being in the range of other commercial drugs, which produced intraocular pressure reductions between 18 and 35%. The mean-time effect for PTD4-profilin was 6.8 h and was also in the same range as commercial products that provided values between 4.3 and 5.5 h. According to the results presented here we propose PTD4-profilin as a new approach for the treatment of ocular hypertension and PTD4 as a new strategy to facilitate the penetration of molecules into the eye.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.04.020DOI Listing
July 2007

Norepinephrine induces calcium spikes and proinflammatory actions in human hepatic stellate cells.

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2006 Nov 15;291(5):G877-84. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Liver Unit, Institut Clínic de Malalties Digestives i Metabòliques, Hospital Clínic, Villarroel 170, Barcelona, Spain.

Catecholamines participate in the pathogenesis of portal hypertension and liver fibrosis through alpha1-adrenoceptors. However, the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. Here, we investigated the effects of norepinephrine (NE) on human hepatic stellate cells (HSC), which exert vasoactive, inflammatory, and fibrogenic actions in the injured liver. Adrenoceptor expression was assessed in human HSC by RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry. Intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) was studied in fura-2-loaded cells. Cell contraction was studied by assessing wrinkle formation and myosin light chain II (MLC II) phosphorylation. Cell proliferation and collagen-alpha1(I) expression were assessed by [3H]thymidine incorporation and quantitative PCR, respectively. NF-kappaB activation was assessed by luciferase reporter gene and p65 nuclear translocation. Chemokine secretion was assessed by ELISA. Normal human livers expressed alpha(1A)-adrenoceptors, which were markedly upregulated in livers with advanced fibrosis. Activated human HSC expressed alpha(1A)-adrenoceptors. NE induced multiple rapid [Ca2+]i oscillations (Ca2+ spikes). Prazosin (alpha1-blocker) completely prevented NE-induced Ca2+ spikes, whereas propranolol (nonspecific beta-blocker) partially attenuated this effect. NE caused phosphorylation of MLC II and cell contraction. In contrast, NE did not affect cell proliferation or collagen-alpha1(I) expression. Importantly, NE stimulated the secretion of inflammatory chemokines (RANTES and interleukin-8) in a dose-dependent manner. Prazosin blocked NE-induced chemokine secretion. NE stimulated NF-kappaB activation. BAY 11-7082, a specific NF-kappaB inhibitor, blocked NE-induced chemokine secretion. We conclude that NE stimulates NF-kappaB and induces cell contraction and proinflammatory effects in human HSC. Catecholamines may participate in the pathogenesis of portal hypertension and liver fibrosis by targeting HSC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpgi.00537.2005DOI Listing
November 2006

Identification and functional characterization of ClC-2 chloride channels in trabecular meshwork cells.

Exp Eye Res 2006 Oct 12;83(4):877-89. Epub 2006 Jun 12.

Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Department of Physiological Sciences I-Institute of Biomedical Investigations August Pi i Sunyer, IDIBAPS, School of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Casanova 143, E-08036 Barcelona, Spain.

In the eye, trabecular meshwork (TM) cell volume may be an important determinant of aqueous humor outflow. Among their functions, ClC-2 chloride channels are thought to be involved in regulation of cellular volume and intracellular [Cl(-)]. We characterized the properties and modulation of an inwardly rectifying chloride current activated in these cells. Patch-clamp recordings revealed inwardly rectifying chloride currents activated by membrane hyperpolarization in primary cultures of both bovine (BTM) and human (HTM) TM cells. Electrophysiological properties and anion permeability sequence (Cl(-)>Br(-)>I(-)>F(-)) were in agreement with previous data for ClC-2 in other cells. The currents were blocked by Cd(2+) and enhanced by extracellular acidification, 8Br-cAMP and cell swelling, while extracellular alkalinization decreased them. RT-PCR experiments using total RNA revealed the molecular expression of ClC-2 channels. Previously we reported the involvement of swelling-activated chloride channels (Cl(swell)) and Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels (BK(Ca)) in cell volume and outflow facility regulation. However, in the present analysis, cell volume experiments in calcein-loaded cells and outflow facility studies performed in bovine anterior segments revealed that ClC-2 channels do not make a significant contribution to the recovery of cellular volume or to the regulation of the outflow facility. Nevertheless, ClC-2 modulation by different stimuli may contribute to intracellular [Cl(-)] regulation and other cellular functions yet to be determined in the TM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exer.2006.04.008DOI Listing
October 2006

Use of transduction proteins to target trabecular meshwork cells: outflow modulation by profilin I.

Mol Vis 2005 Dec 9;11:1071-82. Epub 2005 Dec 9.

Department of Physiological Sciences, I-August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), Faculty of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Purpose: Fusion proteins containing a protein transduction domain (PTD4) are able to cross biological membranes. We tested the applicability of the protein transduction method for study of the aqueous humor trabecular outflow pathway by targeting the actin cytoskeleton, which is known to be involved in outflow facility regulation.

Methods: Expression vectors useful for generating fusion proteins with the PTD4 domain and the actin-binding protein Profilin I were constructed. The transductional and functional properties of these proteins were tested in bovine trabecular meshwork cells in culture. The effects of PTD4-Profilin I on outflow facility were evaluated in perfused bovine anterior segments. PTD4-beta-galactosidase was used to visually check correct delivery of fusion proteins to trabecular meshwork cells.

Results: The fusion proteins generated were characterized by western blot. Immunocytochemistry experiments showed intracellular staining for PTD4-Profilin I in trabecular meshwork cells in culture. The fusion protein was found in the cytoplasm associated with actin filaments and in the leading edge of the cellular membrane. In contrast, control Profilin I, without the PTD4 domain, was unable to cross the cell membrane. In perfused anterior segments, 2 microM PTD4-Profilin I increased trabecular outflow facility in a reversible manner, while Profilin I had no significant effect. Anterior segments perfused with PTD4-beta-galactosidase showed positive staining in the trabecular meshwork tissue.

Conclusions: Protein transduction technology is a valuable tool for targeting trabecular meshwork tissue, not only for performing physiological studies, but also as a potential drug-delivery method. Profilin I action on the actin cytoskeleton further reinforces the importance of this structure in outflow facility regulation.
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December 2005

Genomic and functional characterization of stellate cells isolated from human cirrhotic livers.

J Hepatol 2005 Aug;43(2):272-82

Liver Unit, Hospital Clínic, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Background/aims: Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are believed to participate in liver fibrogenesis and portal hypertension. Knowledge on human HSCs is based on studies using HSCs isolated from normal livers. We investigated the phenotypic, genomic and functional characteristics of HSCs from human cirrhotic livers.

Methods: HSC were obtained from normal and cirrhotic human livers. Cells were characterized by immunocytochemistry and gene microarray analysis. Cell proliferation, Ca(2+) changes and cell contraction were assessed by 3H-thymidine incorporation and by using an epifluorescence microscope.

Results: HSCs freshly isolated from human cirrhotic livers showed phenotypical features of myofibroblasts. These features were absent in HSCs freshly isolated from normal human livers and become prominent after prolonged culture. HSCs from cirrhotic human livers markedly express genes involved in fibrogensis, inflammation and apoptosis. HSCs from normal livers after prolonged culture preferntially expressed genes related to fibrogenesis and contractility. Agonists induced proliferation, Ca(2+) increase and cell contraction in HSCs isolated from human cirrhotic livers. Response to agonists was more marked in culture-activated HSCs and was not observed in HSCs freshly isolated from normal livers.

Conclusions: HSCs from human cirrhotic livers show fibrogenic and contractile features. However, the current model of HSCs activated in culture does not exactly reproduce the activated phenotype found in cirrhotic human livers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2005.02.035DOI Listing
August 2005

Effects of dinucleoside polyphosphates on trabecular meshwork cells and aqueous humor outflow facility.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2005 Sep 9;314(3):1042-51. Epub 2005 Jun 9.

Laboratori de Neurofisiologia, Facultat de Medicina-Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

The most important risk factor for the development of glaucoma is elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Hypotensive drugs decrease IOP, preventing optic nerve damage and further vision loss. The balance between aqueous humor (AH) production and drainage determines IOP, and problems in AH outflow pathways are associated with open-angle glaucoma development. Previous studies have shown the presence of diadenosine tetraphosphate (Ap(4)A) and pentaphosphate (Ap(5)A) in the AH. Topic application of Ap(4)A to the cornea decreased IOP, whereas Ap(5)A increased it. Because dinucleoside polyphosphates stimulate P2Y purinergic receptors, we studied their presence in trabecular meshwork (TM) cells. Additionally, the effects of diadenosine polyphosphates (Ap(n)As; n = 3-5) and Up(4)U (P(1),P(4)-(diuridine 5')-tetraphosphate; INS365) in outflow facility were tested. P2Y(1), P2Y(2), and P2Y(4) receptors were detected in TM cells by Western blot and immunocytochemistry. In TM cells, Ap(3)A, Ap(4)A, and Ap(5)A induced discrete intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)) mobilizations compared with higher and more sustained [Ca(2+)](i) mobilizations after Up(4)U application. In bovine ocular anterior segments perfused at constant pressure, 1 microM Ap(3)A or Ap(4)A increased outflow facility, whereas Up(4)U or Ap(5)A did not modify it. 2-MeSADP, a selective P2Y(1) agonist, induced outflow facility increases similar to those obtained after Ap(3)A and Ap(4)A, and these were prevented by addition of the selective P2Y(1) receptor antagonist MRS-2179 (2'-deoxy-N(6)-methyladenosine-3',5'-diphosphate). Our results demonstrate that the hypotensive effect of Ap(4)A and other dinucleotides is mediated, at least in part, by increasing trabecular outflow facility through activation of P2Y(1) receptors. The latter would seem to be an interesting target in the development of antiglaucomatous drugs to selectively increase AH outflow.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.105.085274DOI Listing
September 2005

Evidence that long-term hyperexcitability of the sensory neuron soma induced by nerve injury in Aplysia is adaptive.

J Neurophysiol 2005 Sep 8;94(3):2218-30. Epub 2005 Jun 8.

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas, USA.

Peripheral axotomy induces long-term hyperexcitability (LTH) of centrally located sensory neuron (SN) somata in diverse species. In mammals this LTH can promote spontaneous activity of pain-related SNs, and such activity may contribute to neuropathic pain and hyperalgesia. However, few axotomized SN somata begin to fire spontaneously in any species, and why so many SNs display soma LTH after axotomy remains a mystery. Is soma LTH a side effect of injury with pathological but no adaptive consequences, or was this response selected during evolution for particular functions? A hypothesis for one function of soma LTH in nociceptive SNs in Aplysia californica is proposed: after peripheral injury that produces partial axotomy of some SNs, compensation for sensory deficits and protective sensitization are achieved by facilitating afterdischarge near the soma, which amplifies sensory input from injured peripheral fields. Four predictions of this hypothesis were confirmed in SNs that innervate the tail. First, LTH of SN somata was induced by a relatively natural axotomizing event-a small cut across part of the tail in the absence of anesthesia. Second, soma LTH was selectively expressed in SNs having axons in cut or crushed nerves rather than nearby, uninjured nerves. Third, after several weeks soma LTH began to reverse when functional recovery of the interrupted afferent pathway was shown by reestablishment of a centrally mediated siphon reflex. Fourth, axotomized SNs developed central afterdischarge that amplified sensory discharge coming from the periphery, and the after-depolarization underlying this afterdischarge was enhanced by previous axotomy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00169.2005DOI Listing
September 2005

Differential expression of the human chloride channel genes in the trabecular meshwork under stress conditions.

Exp Eye Res 2005 Jun;80(6):801-13

Department of Ophthalmology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 6109 Neuroscience Research Building CB 7041, 103 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7041, USA.

Among other channels, voltage-gated chloride channels (ClC) regulate cell volume, membrane potential and cellular transport. Because changes in trabecular meshwork (TM) cell volume influence outflow facility and because the relative abundance of a gene's transcript is an indication of the relevance of the gene's function, we investigated the presence and relative expression of seven members of the CLCN gene family in the human TM. To elucidate the role of ClC-2 and ClC-3 in cell swelling, we studied changes in their mRNA levels after hypotonic shock. In addition, to examine the potential involvement of these two channels in conditions associated with glaucoma, we determined their transcripts levels in response to elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and dexamethasone (DEX). For our evaluations, we used non-transformed human TM cells and perfused human anterior segments from post-mortem donors. For hypotonic shock, cells were exposed to 260 mOsm kg(-1) medium for 15 and 30 min. For DEX, cells were treated with 0.1 microm DEX for 1, 4 and 10 days. For elevated IOP, one eye of each pair of perfused human anterior segments was subjected to DeltaP 38+/-4 mm Hg for 1 hr, 4 and 7 days while the contralateral remained at baseline pressure as a control. ClCs transcripts were determined by relative quantitative RT-PCR. Our results showed that all transcripts but ClC-1 were detected in HTM cells. ClC-2 and ClC-3 were the most abundant and comprised about twice the amount of ClC-6 and ClC-7 and four times that of ClC-4 and ClC-5. Hypotonic conditions consistently up regulated CLCN2 and slightly up regulated CLCN3. After short periods of elevated pressure, ClC-2 and ClC-3 transcripts were increased but ClC-2 induction was significantly higher than that of ClC-3. In contrast, after long pressure insults (7 days), ClC-3 mRNA was significantly increased while CLCN2 was not changed. DEX treatment markedly down regulated CLCN3 and little, if any, reduced ClC-2. The extent of response of the CLCN2 and CLCN3 to these conditions was markedly affected by individual traits but at all times maintained the relative expression pattern of both genes. CLCN2 gene expression was predominantly influenced by cell volume regulation while that of CLCN3 was preferentially affected by conditions associated with TM pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.exer.2004.12.009DOI Listing
June 2005

Modulation of aqueous humor outflow by ionic mechanisms involved in trabecular meshwork cell volume regulation.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2004 Oct;45(10):3650-61

Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Department of Physiological Sciences I-Institute of Biomedical Investigations August Pi i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, Spain.

Purpose: Trabecular meshwork (TM) cell shape, volume, contractility and their interactions with extracellular matrix determine outflow facility. Because cell volume seems essential to TM function, this study was conducted to investigate further the ionic channels and receptors involved in regulatory volume decrease and their roles in modulating outflow facility.

Methods: Primary cultures of bovine TM cells were used. K(+) and Cl(-) currents were studied with whole-cell patch clamping. Swelling was induced by hypotonic shock. [Ca(2+)](i) was measured in TM cells loaded with fura-2. Bovine anterior segments were perfused at constant pressure to measure outflow facility.

Results: Hypotonic media activated both the high-conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channel (BK(Ca)) and swelling-activated Cl(-) channel (Cl(swell)) currents and induced release of adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) from TM cells. ATP activated P2Y(2) receptors with the following profile: ATP = uridine 5'-triphosphate (UTP) > adenosine 5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (ATP-gamma S) > adenosine 5'-diphosphate (ADP) = uridine 5'-diphosphate (UDP), and increased BK(Ca) current. Hypotonic medium initially decreased outflow facility in perfused anterior segments, which recovered with time to baseline levels. Addition of tamoxifen or iberiotoxin (Cl(swell) and BK(Ca) blockers, respectively) lengthened the recovery phase, which implies that these channels participate in cell volume regulation. In contrast, an activator of BK(Ca)s (NS1619) produced the opposite effect.

Conclusions: Cell swelling activates a regulatory volume decrease mechanism that implies activation of K(+) and Cl(-) currents and participation of P2Y(2) receptors. Because previous studies have shown that intracellular volume of TM cells is an important determinant of outflow facility, it seems feasible that cell volume regulation would be part of the homeostatic mechanisms of the TM, to regulate the outflow pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.04-0060DOI Listing
October 2004

Understanding trabecular meshwork physiology: a key to the control of intraocular pressure?

News Physiol Sci 2003 Oct;18:205-9

Laboratori de Neurofisiologia, Departament de Ciències Fisiològiques I and Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de Barcelona, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/nips.01443.2003DOI Listing
October 2003

Cell membrane stretch modulates the high-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel in bovine trabecular meshwork cells.

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2003 Feb;44(2):706-14

Laboratory of Neurophysiology, Department of Physiological Sciences I, Institute of Biomedical Investigations August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Faculty of Medicine, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Purpose: Anterior chamber structures are subjected to changes in intraocular pressure (IOP). Several studies have pointed out that trabecular meshwork (TM) cells are sensitive to mechanical stretch and that cell-signaling mechanisms are activated in response to elevated pressure. Because membrane stretch has been shown to be a modulator of several ionic conductances, this study was conducted to determine its effects on the high-conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) (BK(Ca)) channels present in TM cells.

Methods: Primary cultures of TM cells from bovine eyes were used. Patch-clamp recordings were performed in the cell-attached, inside-out, and whole-cell configurations. To stretch the cell membrane, both suction to the rear end of the patch pipette and hypotonic shock were used. Intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)) was measured in TM cells loaded with fura-2, using an epifluorescence microscope coupled to a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera.

Results: Electrophysiological characterization of BK(Ca) channels was in agreement with previous studies. In cell-attached patches, the open probability of the BK(Ca) channel (i.e., the amount of time the channel is open) increased consistently when 14- to 45-mm Hg suctions were applied at a constant depolarized voltage. At a constant pressure (25 or 45 mm Hg), channel openings increased when depolarizing pulses were applied to the patch. Stretch activation of the BK(Ca) channel was not mediated by increases in [Ca(2+)](i), because it was present in inside-out patches maintained at a constant Ca(2+) concentration. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that at low suction levels, a minimum Ca(2+) concentration is necessary for channel activation. Whole-cell currents carried by BK(Ca) channels increased when the isotonic solution in the bath was exchanged with a hypotonic solution and were selectively blocked by iberiotoxin. In our conditions, the hypotonic shock did not modify [Ca(2+)](i).

Conclusions: The data show that in TM cells, open probability of the BK(Ca) channel is enhanced by membrane stretching as well as by membrane depolarization and [Ca(2+)](i). Changes in membrane tension induced by cell volume increase also activated whole-cell BK(Ca) currents. Homeostatic mechanisms in TM cells may involve BK(Ca) channel activation in response either to changes in cell volume or changes in IOP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1167/iovs.02-0384DOI Listing
February 2003

Long-term alteration of S-type potassium current and passive membrane properties in aplysia sensory neurons following axotomy.

J Neurophysiol 2002 May;87(5):2408-20

Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

In many neurons, axotomy triggers long-lasting alterations in excitability as well as regenerative growth. We have investigated mechanisms contributing to the expression of axotomy-induced, long-term hyperexcitability (LTH) of mechanosensory neurons in Aplysia californica. Electrophysiological tests were applied to pleural sensory neurons 5-10 days after unilateral crush of pedal nerves. Two-electrode current-clamp experiments revealed that compared with uninjured sensory neurons on the contralateral side of the body, axotomized sensory neurons consistently displayed alterations of passive membrane properties: notably, increases in input resistance (R(in)), membrane time constant (tau), and apparent input capacitance. In some cells, axotomy also depolarized the resting membrane potential (RMP). Axotomized sensory neurons showed a lower incidence of voltage relaxation ("sag") during prolonged hyperpolarizing pulses and greater depolarizations during long (2 s) but not brief (20 ms) pulses. In addition to a reduction in spike accommodation, axotomized sensory neurons displayed a dramatic decrease in current (rheobase) required to reach spike threshold during long depolarizations. The increase in tau was associated with prolongation of responses to brief current pulses and with a large increase in the latency to spike at rheobase. Two-electrode voltage-clamp revealed an axotomy-induced decrease in a current with two components: a leakage current component and a slowly activating, noninactivating outward current component. Neither component was blocked by agents known to block other K(+) currents in these neurons. In contrast to the instantaneous leakage current seen with hyperpolarizing and depolarizing steps, the late component of the axotomy-sensitive outward current showed a relatively steep voltage dependence with pulses to V(m) > -40 mV. These features match those of the S-type ("serotonin-sensitive") K(+) current, I(K,S). The close resemblance of I(K,S) to a background current mediated by TREK-1 (KCNK2) channels in mammals, raises interesting questions about alterations of this family of channels during axotomy-induced LTH in both Aplysia and mammals. The increase in apparent C(in) may be a consequence of the extensive sprouting that has been observed in axotomized sensory neurons near their somata, and the decrease in I(K,S) probably helps to compensate for the decrease in excitability that would otherwise occur as new growth causes both cell volume and C(in) to increase. In peripheral regions of the sensory neuron, a decrease in I(K,S) might enhance the safety factor for conduction across regenerating segments that are highly susceptible to conduction block.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.2002.87.5.2408DOI Listing
May 2002