Caveolae and caveolae constituents in mechanosensing: Effect of modeled microgravity on cultured human endothelial cells

Enzo Spisni, Mattia Toni, Antonio Strillacci, Grazia Galleri, Spartaco Santi, Cristiana Griffoni, Vittorio Tomasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies in modeled microgravity or during orbital space flights have clearly demonstrated that endothelial cell physiology is strongly affected by the reduction of gravity. Nevertheless, the molecular mechanisms by which endothelial cells may sense gravity force remain unclear. We previously hypothesized that endothelial cell caveolae could be a mechanosensing system involved in hypergravity adaptation of human endothelial cells. In this study, we analyzed the effect on the physiology of human umbilical vein endothelial cell monolayers of short exposure to modeled microgravity (24-48 h) obtained by clinorotation. For this purpose, we evaluated the levels of compounds, such as nitric oxide and prostacyclin, involved in vascular tone regulation and synthesized starting from caveolae-related enzymes. Furthermore, we examined posttranslational modifications of Caveolin (Cav)-1 induced by simulated microgravity. The results we collected clearly indicated that short microgravity exposure strongly affected endothelial nitric oxide synthase activity associated with Cav-1 (Tyr 14) phosphorylation, without modifying the angiogenic response of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We propose here that one of the early molecular mechanisms responsible for gravity sensing of endothelium involves endothelial cell caveolae and Cav-1 phosphorylation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-164
Number of pages10
JournalCell Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


  • Caveolae
  • Caveolin-1
  • Endothelial cells
  • Microgravity
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biophysics


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