Kinetics of Endothelin-Induced Inhibition and Glucose Permeability of Astrocyte Gap Junctions

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Gap junctions contribute to important functions of communicating glial cells in brain physiology and pathology. Endothelins (ETs), a vasoactive family of peptides present in the brain, have been described as potent inhibitors of astrocyte gap junctional communication. Through dye-coupling studies we demonstrate here that this inhibition occurs rapidly and then successively reverses and returns to control levels after 90 min of continuous ET1 or ET3 exposure. In addition, long-term exposure of cells to ET3, which acts mainly on ETB receptors, also desensitized the acute action of ET1, which was previously shown to act through either ETA or ETB receptor sites, or both. The gap junction blocker carbenoxolone did not show any time-dependent desensitization and was fully effective also in cultures treated with ETs for prolonged times. The ETs inhibitory effects were partially prevented when blocking pertussis toxin-sensitive G-proteins, chelating intracellular Ca2+, or omitting extracellular Ca2+. We further show that ETs modulate gap junction-mediated transfer of 2-[N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-Y1)amino]-2-deoxyglucose (2-NBDG), a fluorescent glucose molecule, indicating a role of astrocyte gap junction coupling in metabolic trafficking and suggesting the importance of these peptides in the control of intercellular diffusion of energetic compounds. These findings might have particular relevance in early tissue reactions after various cerebral injuries, which commonly involve increased cerebral ET levels.

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