Cell growth modulates nitric oxide synthase expression in fetal pulmonary artery endothelial cells

Jeannette A. Whitney, Zohre German, Todd S. Sherman, Ivan S. Yuhanna, Philip W. Shaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Nitric oxide (NO), produced by endothelial (e) nitric oxide synthase (NOS), is a critical mediator of vascular function and growth in the developing lung. Pulmonary eNOS expression is diminished in conditions associated with altered pulmonary vascular development, suggesting the eNOS may be modulated by changes in pulmonary artery endothelial cell (PAEC) growth. We determined the effects of cell growth on eNOS expression in cultured ovine fetal PAEC studied at varying levels of confluence. NOS enzymatic activity was sixfold greater in quiescent PAEC at 100% confluence compared with more rapidly replicating cells at 50% confluence. To determine if there is a reciprocal effect of NO on PAEC growth, studies of NOS inhibition or the provision of exogenous NO from spermine NONOate were performed. Neither intervention had a discernable effect on PAEC growth. The influence of cell growth on NOS activity was unique to pulmonary endothelium, because varying confluence did not alter NOS activity in fetal systemic endothelial cells. The effects of cell growth induced by serum stimulation were also evaluated, and NOS enzymatic activity was threefold greater in quiescent, serum-deprived cells compared with that in serum-stimulated cells. The increase in NOS activity observed at full confluence was accompanied by parallel increases in eNOS protein and mRNA expression. These findings indicate that eNOS gene expression in fetal PAEC is upregulated during cell quiescence and downregulated during rapid cell growth. Furthermore, the interaction between cell growth and NO in the PAEC is unidirectional.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L131-L138
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1 22-1
StatePublished - Jan 2000


  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Pulmonary circulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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