Elevated glucose attenuates agonist- and flow-stimulated endothelial nitric oxide synthase activity in microvascular retinal endothelial cells

Paul Connell, Tony Walshe, Gail Ferguson, Wei Gao, Colm O'Brien, Paul A Cahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Impaired vasoactive release of opposing vasodilator and vasoconstrictor mediators due to endothelial dysfunction is integral to the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of hyperglycemia on the expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and the release of nitric oxide (NO) in bovine microvascular retinal endothelial cells (BRECs) under both static (basal and acetylcholine stimulated) and flow (laminar shear stress [10 dynes/cm2 and pulsatile flow 0.3 to 23 dynes/cm2) conditions using a laminar shear apparatus and an in vitro perfused transcapillary culture system. The activity and expression of eNOS, measured by nitrate levels and immunoblot, respectively, were determined following exposure of BRECs to varying concentrations of glucose and mannitol (0 to 25 mM). Under static conditions the expression of eNOS decreased significantly following exposure to increasing concentrations of glucose when compared to osmotic mannitol controls and was accompanied by a significant dose-dependent decrease in nitrate levels in conditioned medium. The acetylcholine stimulated increase in NO release (2.0 +/- 0.3-fold) was significantly reduced by 55% +/- 5% and 65% +/- 4.5% following exposure to 16 and 25 mM glucose, respectively, when compared to osmotic controls. In parallel studies, glucose significantly inhibited both laminar shear stress and pulsatile flow-induced activity when compared to mannitol. We conclude that hyperglycemia impairs agonist- and flow-dependent release of NO in retinal microvascular endothelial cells and may thus contribute to the vascular endothelial dysfunction and impaired autoregulation of diabetic retinopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalEndothelium : journal of endothelial cell research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2007


  • Acetylcholine/pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Culture Media, Conditioned/analysis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endothelial Cells/cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular/cytology
  • Fluorometry
  • Glucose/pharmacology
  • Hyperglycemia/metabolism
  • Mannose/pharmacology
  • Nitrates/analysis
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III/metabolism
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Pulsatile Flow/drug effects
  • Retinal Vessels/cytology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Vasodilator Agents/pharmacology


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