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Biochemistry - Critical Care and Emergency Medicine

Opposing Effects of the Angiopoietins on the Thrombin-Induced Permeability of Human Pulmonary Microvascular Endothelial Cells
Published: Monday, August 15, 2011
Author: Melanie van der Heijden et al.

by Melanie van der Heijden, Geerten P. van Nieuw Amerongen, Jan van Bezu, Marinus A. Paul, A. B. Johan Groeneveld, Victor W. M. van Hinsbergh


Angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) is associated with lung injury in ALI/ARDS. As endothelial activation by thrombin plays a role in the permeability of acute lung injury and Ang-2 may modulate the kinetics of thrombin-induced permeability by impairing the organization of vascular endothelial (VE-)cadherin, and affecting small Rho GTPases in human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (HPMVECs), we hypothesized that Ang-2 acts as a sensitizer of thrombin-induced hyperpermeability of HPMVECs, opposed by Ang-1.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Permeability was assessed by measuring macromolecule passage and transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER). Angiopoietins did not affect basal permeability. Nevertheless, they had opposing effects on the thrombin-induced permeability, in particular in the initial phase. Ang-2 enhanced the initial permeability increase (passage, P?=?0.010; TEER, P?=?0.021) in parallel with impairment of VE-cadherin organization without affecting VE-cadherin Tyr685 phosphorylation or increasing RhoA activity. Ang-2 also increased intercellular gap formation. Ang-1 preincubation increased Rac1 activity, enforced the VE-cadherin organization, reduced the initial thrombin-induced permeability (TEER, P?=?0.027), while Rac1 activity simultaneously normalized, and reduced RhoA activity at 15 min thrombin exposure (P?=?0.039), but not at earlier time points. The simultaneous presence of Ang-2 largely prevented the effect of Ang-1 on TEER and macromolecule passage.


Ang-1 attenuated thrombin-induced permeability, which involved initial Rac1 activation-enforced cell-cell junctions, and later RhoA inhibition. In addition to antagonizing Ang-1, Ang-2 had also a direct effect itself. Ang-2 sensitized the initial thrombin-induced permeability accompanied by destabilization of VE-cadherin junctions and increased gap formation, in the absence of increased RhoA activity.