Trophic effects induced by α 1D-adrenoceptors on endothelial cells are potentiated by hypoxia

Maria Cristina Vinci, Lydia Bellik, Sandra Filippi, Fabrizio Ledda, Astrid Parenti

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Catecholamines have been shown to be involved in vascular remodeling through the stimulation of α1-adrenoceptors (α1-ARs). Recently, it has been demonstrated that catecholamines can stimulate angiogenesis in pathological conditions, even if the mechanisms and the AR subtypes involved still remain unclear. We investigated the influence of hypoxia (3% O2) on the ability of picomolar concentrations of phenylephrine (PHE), which are unable to induce any vascular contraction, to induce a trophic effect in human endothelial cells through stimulation of the α1D-subtype ARs. PHE, at picomolar concentrations, significantly promoted pseudocapillary formation from fragments of human mature vessels in vitro. Exposure to hypoxia significantly potentiated this effect, which was inhibited by the selective α1D-AR antagonist BMY-7378 and by the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor L-NAME, suggesting that α1D-ARs were involved in this effect through activation of the nitric oxide pathway. Proliferation and migration of HUVEC were also affected by picomolar PHE concentrations. Again, these effects were significantly potentiated in cells exposed to hypoxia and were inhibited by BMY-7378 and by NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester. Conversely, the α1A-AR-selective antagonist (S)-(+)-niguldipine hydrochloride and the α1B-AR antagonist chloroethylclonidine dihydrochloride did not modify endothelial cell migration and proliferation in response to PHE. These results demonstrate that the stimulation of α1D-ARs, triggered by picomolar PHE concentrations devoid of any contractile vascular effects, induces a proangiogenic phenotype in human endothelial cells that is enhanced in a hypoxic environment. The role of α1D-ARs may become more prominent in the adaptive responses to hypoxic vasculature injury.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • Catecholamines
  • Endothelial cell growth and migration
  • Low oxygen tension
  • Nitric oxide
  • Vascular remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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