Archive for the ‘K’ Category

Richard Lifton, MD, PhD of Yale University & Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Recipient of 2014 Breakthrough Prizes Awarded in Life Sciences for the Discovery of Genes and Biochemical Mechanisms that cause Hypertension

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Yale’s Lifton receives $3 million science prize at gala Silicon Valley ceremony

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bill Hathaway / 203-432-1322

Read this article on YaleNews

Richard Lifton, Sterling Professor of Genetics and chair of the Department of Genetics, has received a $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, created by top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

Lifton was one of eight scientists honored Dec. 12 with $21 million in prizes at gala ceremonies hosted by actor Kevin Spacey in Mountain View, California. Celebrities — including Conan O’Brien, Glenn Close, Rob Lowe, and Michael C. Hall — handed out awards to six winners of the life sciences prizes and two co-winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

“Scientists should be celebrated as heroes, and we are honored to be part of today’s celebration,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife, biologist and entrepreneur Anne Wojcicki, two of the event’s sponsors.

Lifton, who is also an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, was recognized for his pioneering work to identify the genetic and biochemical underpinnings of hypertension, a disease that affects more than 1 billion people worldwide and that contributes to 17 million deaths annually from heart attack and stroke. Lifton and his colleagues identified patients around the world with exceptionally high or low blood pressure due to single gene mutations. They identified the mutated genes and established their role in salt reabsorption by the kidney and regulation of blood pressure. The work gave scientific rationale to limit dietary salt intake and suggested rational combinations of antihypertensive medications and development of new therapies.

Other sponsors of the event are Chinese internet entrepreneur Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang; Russian entrepreneur and venture capitalist Yuri Milner and his wife, Julia Milner; and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan.

At the end of the ceremonies, which will be televised on the Science Channel at 9 p.m. on Jan. 27, Milner and Zuckerberg announced the creation of a $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics that will be awarded next year.

Additional information on the prizes can be found or



Laliotis MD, Zhang J, Volkman HM, Kahle KT, Hoffmann, KE, Toka HR, Nelson-Williams C, Ellison, DH, Flavell, R, Booth, CJ, Lu Y, Geller, DS, Lifton, RP. Wnk4 controls blood pressure and potassium homeostasis via regulation of mass and activity of the distal convoluted tubule. Nature Genetics, in press

Earlier Research Results on this discovey
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jan 21;100(2):680-4. Epub 2003 Jan 6.

Molecular pathogenesis of inherited hypertension with hyperkalemia: the Na-Cl cotransporter is inhibited by wild-type but not mutant WNK4.

Wilson FH1Kahle KTSabath ELalioti MDRapson AKHoover RSHebert SCGamba GLifton RP.


Mutations in the serine-threonine kinases WNK1 and WNK4 [with no lysine (K) at a key catalytic residue] cause pseudohypoaldosteronism type II (PHAII), a Mendelian disease featuring hypertension, hyperkalemia, hyperchloremia, and metabolic acidosis. Both kinases are expressed in the distal nephron, although the regulators and targets of WNK signaling cascades are unknown. The Cl(-) dependence of PHAII phenotypes, their sensitivity to thiazide diuretics, and the observation that they constitute a “mirror image” of the phenotypes resulting from loss of function mutations in the thiazide-sensitive Na-Cl cotransporter (NCCT) suggest that PHAII may result from increased NCCT activity due to altered WNK signaling. To address this possibility, we measured NCCT-mediated Na(+) influx and membrane expression in the presence of wild-type and mutant WNK4 by heterologous expression in Xenopus oocytes. Wild-type WNK4 inhibits NCCT-mediated Na-influx by reducing membrane expression of the cotransporter ((22)Na-influx reduced 50%, P < 1 x 10(-9), surface expression reduced 75%, P < 1 x 10(-14) in the presence of WNK4). This inhibition depends on WNK4 kinase activity, because missense mutations that abrogate kinase function prevent this effect. PHAII-causing missense mutations, which are remote from the kinase domain, also prevent inhibition of NCCT activity, providing insight into the pathophysiology of the disorder. The specificity of this effect is indicated by the finding that WNK4 and the carboxyl terminus of NCCT coimmunoprecipitate when expressed in HEK 293T cells. Together, these findings demonstrate that WNK4 negatively regulates surface expression of NCCT and implicate loss of this regulation in the molecular pathogenesis of an inherited form of hypertension.

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LISTEN TO AUDIO TAPE by Prof. Richard Lifton

January 27, 2014
Richard Lifton

Yale’s Richard Lifton is one of eight world-changing researchers whose work is celebrated during a program airing tonight (Jan. 27) on the Science Channel at 9 p.m. EST.

Lifton, Sterling Professor of Genetics and chair of the Department of Genetics, received a $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, created by top Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

The Science Channel program features the Dec. 12 ceremony where Lifton and others received their prize. The festivities were hosted by actor Kevin Spacey and featured such celebrities as Conan O’Brien, Glenn Close, Rob Lowe, and Michael C. Hall, as well as tech leaders Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Jimmy Wales, and Yuri Milner.


Yale consortium awarded $6 million to study therapies for vascular disease

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Helen Dodson / 203-436-3984

Stacey Buba / 203-432-1333

Read this article on YaleNews

An international research team spearheaded by William C. Sessa, the Alfred Gilman Professor of Pharmacology and professor of medicine (cardiology), has been awarded a $6 million Transatlantic Networks of Excellence grant from the Fondation Leducq in France.

Sessa will be the U.S. coordinator for the consortium as it explores the mechanisms of secreted microRNAs and microRNA-based therapies for vascular disease. Sessa will be joined by a European coordinator, Dr. Thomas Thum, director of the Institute for Molecular and Translational Therapeutic Strategies at Hanover Medical School in Germany, and five investigators including recent Yale recruit, Carlos Fenandez-Hernando, associate professor of comparative medicine. The grant will be distributed over five years.

Sessa is director of the vascular biology and therapeutics program and vice chairman of pharmacology at Yale School of Medicine.

Sessa has long worked at the intersection of pharmacology and cardiovascular disease. He is on the scientific advisory board of the William Harvey Research Institute and NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in London, and also served on the joint strategy committee for the Yale-UCL collaborative in cardiovascular research.

“I am grateful to Fondation Leducq for funding this new international collaboration to find new and effective ways to treat a disease that kills millions of people each year,” Sessa said. “We have assembled a fantastic team of world class scientists to tackle the basic questions of how microRNAs are packaged and transferred between cells, and their therapeutic potential in vascular diseases.”

Fondation Leducq is a French non-profit health research foundation. Its mission is to improve human health through international efforts to combat cardiovascular disease. To this end, Fondation Leducq created the Transatlantic Networks of Excellence in Cardiovascular Research Program, which is designed to promote collaborative research involving centers in North America and Europe in the areas of cardiovascular and neurovascular disease.

Yale has had two previous Leducq grants — to Dr. Richard Lifton, chair of genetics, and Dr. Michael Simons, director of the Yale Cardiovascular Research Center.


International Activity

  • YALE-UCL Collaborative
    London, United Kingdom (2011)
    Dr. Lifton is on the Joint Strategy Committee for the Yale-UCL Collaborative, an alliance which will provide opportunities for high-level scientific research, clinical and educational collaboration across the institutions involved: Yale University, Yale School of Medicine, Yale-New Haven Hospital and UCL (University College London) and UCL Partners
  • Transatlantic Network on Hypertension-Renal Salt Handling in the Control of Blood Pressure
    France (2007)
    Drs Hebert and Lifton will join leading researchers in Switzerland, France and Mexico in a transatlantic collaboration aimed at pinpointing the kidney’s role in high blood pressure.

Education & Training

Stanford University (1982)
Stanford University (1986)

Honors & Recognition

  • National Academy of Sciences
  • The Basic Science Prize
    American Heart Association
  • Homer Smith Award
    American Society of Nephrology
  • MSD International Award
    International Society of Hypertension

Research Interests

Molecular genetics of common human diseases

Research Summary

The common human diseases that account for the vast majority of morbidity and mortality in human populations are known to have underlying inherited components. Advances in human genetics have made the identification of genetic variants contributing to these traits feasible. Such identification promises to revolutionize the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to these disorders. We have focused on cardiovascular and renal disease. To date, we have identified mutations underlying more than 20 human diseases; these include a host of diseases that define molecular determinants of hypertension, stroke and heart attack. We have gone on from these starting points to use biochemistry and animal models to define the physiologic mechanisms linking genotype and phenotype. These findings have provided new insight into normal and disease biology, are identifying new pathways underlying disease pathogenesis, and are identifying new targets for development of novel therapeutics.

Extensive Research Description

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death world-wide. Epidemiologic studies have identified hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking as major risk factors. By investigation of rare families recruited from around the world that segregate single genes with large effect, we have identified genes that contribute to these traits, putting a molecular face on their pathogenesis. For example, we have identified mutations in 8 genes that cause high blood pressure (hypertension) and another 8 that cause low blood pressure. These mutations all converge on a final common pathway, the regulation of net salt reabsorption in the kidney. These findings have established the key role of variation in renal salt handling in blood pressure variation, and have led to changes in the approach to treatment of this disease in the general population. They have also identified new therapeutic targets that are predicted to have greater efficacy with reduced side effects. Finally, they have identified new signaling pathways involved in the regulation of blood pressure homeostasis. We have taken similar approaches to another common disease, osteoporosis, with the identification of gain of function mutations in LRP5, a component of the Wnt signaling pathway, in development of high bone density. This finding has led to intensive efforts to identify small molecules that impact this pathway to protect against and/or reverse osteoporosis in the general population. Ongoing studies use both emerging and novel approaches to identification of genes that contribute to disease burden in the population, and to understanding the pathways that link genes to disease. Mutations that affect blood pressure in humans. A diagram of a nephron, the filtering unit of the kidney, is shown. The molecular pathways mediating NaCl reabsorption in individual renal cells along the nephron are shown, along with the pathway of the renin-angiotensin system, a major regulator of renal salt reabsorption. Inherited diseases affecting these pathways are indicated, with hypertensive disorders in red and hypotensive disorders in blue. From Lifton, Gharavi, and Geller. Cell, 104:545-556, 2001.

Selected Publications

  • Mani, A., et al. (2007). LRP6 mutation in a family with early coronary disease and metabolic risk factors. Science 315:1278-82.
  • Ring, A.M., et al. (2007). An SGK1 site in WNK4 regulates Na+ channel and K+ channel activity and has implications for aldosterone signaling and K+ homeostasis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 104:4025-9.
  • Lalioti MD, Zhang J, Volkman HM, Kahle KT, Hoffmann, KE, Toka HR, Nelson-Williams C, Ellison, DH, Flavell, R, Booth, CJ, Lu Y, Geller, DS, Lifton, RP. Wnk4 controls blood pressure and potassium homeostasis via regulation of mass and activity of the distal convoluted tubule. Nature Genetics, in press.
  • Wilson FH, Hariri A, Farhi A, Zhao H, Peterson K, Toka HR, Nelson- Williams C, Raja KM, Kashgarian M, Shulman GI, Scheinman SJ, Lifton RP. A cluster of metabolic defects caused by mutation in a mitochondrial tRNA. Science, 306:1190-94, 2004.
  • Boyden LM, Mao J, Belsky J, Mitzner L, Farhi A, Mitnick MA, Wu D, Insogna K, Lifton RP. High bone density due to a mutation in LDL-receptor-related protein 5. New Engl J Med. 346:1513-1521, 2002.
  • Wilson FH, Disse-Nicodème S, Choate KA, Ishikawa K, Nelson-Williams C, Desitter I, Gunel M, Milford DV, Lipkin GW, Achard JM, Feely MP, Dussol B, Berland Y, Unwin RJ, Mayan H, Simon DB, Farfel Z, Jeunemaitre X, Lifton RP. Human Hypertension Caused by Mutations in WNK Kinases. Science, 293:1107-1112, 2001.
  • Lifton RP, Gharavi A, Geller DS. Molecular mechanisms of human hypertension. Cell, 104:545-556, 2001.
  • Geller DS, Farhi A, Pinkerton N, Fradley M, Moritz M, Spitzer A, Meinke G, Tsai TF, Sigler P, Lifton RP. Activating mineralocorticoid receptor mutation in hypertension exacerbated by pregnancy. Science, 289:119-123, 2000.
  • Simon DB, Lu Y, Choate KA, Velazquez H, Al-Sabban E, Praga M, Casari G, Bettinelli A, Colussi G, Rodriguez-Soriano J, McCredie D, Milford D, Sanjad S, Lifton RP. Paracellin-1, a renal tight junction protein required for paracellular Mg2+ reabsorption. Science, 285:103-106, 1999.


PubMed Results: 10

Select item 225138461.

Protein phosphatase 1 modulates the inhibitory effect of With-no-Lysine kinase 4 on ROMK channels.

Lin DH, Yue P, Rinehart J, Sun P, Wang Z, Lifton R, Wang WH.

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2012 Jul 1;303(1):F110-9. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00676.2011. Epub 2012 Apr 18.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free PMC Article

Related citations

Select item 165287062.

Haplotype analysis in the presence of informatively missing genotype data.

Liu N, Beerman I, Lifton R, Zhao H.

Genet Epidemiol. 2006 May;30(4):290-300.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Related citations

Select item 165282533.

Familial aggregation of primary glomerulonephritis in an Italian population isolate: Valtrompia study.

Izzi C, Sanna-Cherchi S, Prati E, Belleri R, Remedio A, Tardanico R, Foramitti M, Guerini S, Viola BF, Movilli E, Beerman I, Lifton R, Leone L, Gharavi A, Scolari F.

Kidney Int. 2006 Mar;69(6):1033-40.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Related citations

Select item 127823554.

Mice lacking the B1 subunit of H+ -ATPase have normal hearing.

Dou H, Finberg K, Cardell EL, Lifton R, Choo D.

Hear Res. 2003 Jun;180(1-2):76-84.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Related citations

Select item 113430495.

Glucocorticoid-remediable aldosteronism is associated with severe hypertension in early childhood.

Dluhy RG, Anderson B, Harlin B, Ingelfinger J, Lifton R.

J Pediatr. 2001 May;138(5):715-20.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Related citations

Select item 102327426.

Elevated ambulatory blood pressure in 20 subjects with Williams syndrome.

Broder K, Reinhardt E, Ahern J, Lifton R, Tamborlane W, Pober B.

Am J Med Genet. 1999 Apr 23;83(5):356-60.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Select item 97986657.

Coincident acute myelogenous leukemia and ischemic heart disease: use of the cardioprotectant dexrazoxane during induction chemotherapy.

Woodlock TJ, Lifton R, DiSalle M.

Am J Hematol. 1998 Nov;59(3):246-8.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Related citations

Select item 95012578.

In vivo phosphorylation of the epithelial sodium channel.

Shimkets RA, Lifton R, Canessa CM.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Mar 17;95(6):3301-5.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free PMC Article

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Select item 91562619.

Autotransplantation for relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL): long-term follow-up and analysis of prognostic factors.

Rapoport AP, Lifton R, Constine LS, Duerst RE, Abboud CN, Liesveld JL, Packman CH, Eberly S, Raubertas RF, Martin BA, Flesher WR, Kouides PA, DiPersio JF, Rowe JM.

Bone Marrow Transplant. 1997 May;19(9):883-90.



[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Article

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Curation, HealthCare System in the US, and Calcium Signaling Effects on Cardiac Contraction, Heart Failure, and Atrial Fibrillation, and the Relationship of Calcium Release at the Myoneural Junction to Beta Adrenergic Release

Curation, HealthCare System in the US, and Calcium Signaling Effects on Cardiac Contraction, Heart Failure, and Atrial Fibrillation, and the Relationship of Calcium Release at the Myoneural Junction to Beta Adrenergic Release

Curator and e-book Contributor: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP
Curator and BioMedicine e-Series Editor-in-Chief: Aviva Lev Ari, PhD, RN


Content Consultant to Six-Volume e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

This portion summarises what we have covered and is now familiar to the reader.  There are three related topics, and an extension of this embraces other volumes and chapters before and after this reading.  This approach to the document has advantages over the multiple authored textbooks that are and have been pervasive as a result of the traditional publication technology.  It has been stated by the founder of ScoopIt, that amount of time involved is considerably less than required for the original publications used, but the organization and construction is a separate creative process.  In these curations we amassed on average five articles in one curation, to which, two or three curators contributed their views.  There were surprises, and there were unfulfilled answers along the way.  The greatest problem that is being envisioned is the building a vision that bridges and unmasks the hidden “dark matter” between the now declared “OMICS”, to get a more real perspective on what is conjecture and what is actionable.  This is in some respects unavoidable because the genome is an alphabet that is matched to the mino acid sequences of proteins, which themselves are three dimensional drivers of sequences of metabolic reactions that can be altered by the accumulation of substrates in critical placements, and in addition, the proteome has functional proteins whose activity is a regulatory function and not easily identified.  In the end, we have to have a practical conception, recognizing the breadth of evolutionary change, and make sense of what we have, while searching for more.

We introduced the content as follows:

1. We introduce the concept of curation in the digital context, and it’s application to medicine and related scientific discovery.

Topics were chosen were used to illustrate this process in the form of a pattern, which is mostly curation, but is significantly creative, as it emerges in the context of this e-book.

  • Alternative solutions in Treatment of Heart Failure (HF), medical devices, biomarkers and agent efficacy is handled all in one chapter.
  • PCI for valves vs Open heart Valve replacement
  • PDA and Complications of Surgery — only curation could create the picture of this unique combination of debate, as exemplified of Endarterectomy (CEA) vs Stenting the Carotid Artery (CAS), ischemic leg, renal artery stenosis.

2. The etiology, or causes, of cardiovascular diseases consist of mechanistic explanations for dysfunction relating to the heart or vascular system. Every one of a long list of abnormalities has a path that explains the deviation from normal. With the completion of the analysis of the human genome, in principle all of the genetic basis for function and dysfunction are delineated. While all genes are identified, and the genes code for all the gene products that constitute body functions, there remains more unknown than known.

3. Human genome, and in combination with improved imaging methods, genomics offers great promise in changing the course of disease and aging.

4. If we tie together Part 1 and Part 2, there is ample room for considering clinical outcomes based on individual and organizational factors for best performance. This can really only be realized with considerable improvement in information infrastructure, which has miles to go.


Curation is an active filtering of the web’s  and peer reviewed literature found by such means – immense amount of relevant and irrelevant content. As a result content may be disruptive. However, in doing good curation, one does more than simply assign value by presentation of creative work in any category. Great curators comment and share experience across content, authors and themes.
Great curators may see patterns others don’t, or may challenge or debate complex and apparently conflicting points of view.  Answers to specifically focused questions comes from the hard work of many in laboratory settings creatively establishing answers to definitive questions, each a part of the larger knowledge-base of reference. There are those rare “Einstein’s” who imagine a whole universe, unlike the three blindmen of the Sufi tale.  One held the tail, the other the trunk, the other the ear, and they all said this is an elephant!
In my reading, I learn that the optimal ratio of curation to creation may be as high as 90% curation to 10% creation. Creating content is expensive. Curation, by comparison, is much less expensive.  The same source says “ is my content marketing testing “sandbox”. In sharing, he says that comments provide the framework for what and how content is shared.

Healthcare and Affordable Care Act

We enter year 2014 with the Affordable Care Act off to a slow start because of the implementation of the internet signup requiring a major repair, which is, unfortunately, as expected for such as complex job across the US, and with many states unwilling to participate.  But several states – California, Connecticut, and Kentucky – had very effective state designed signups, separate from the federal system.  There has been a very large rush and an extension to sign up. There are many features that we can take note of:

1. The healthcare system needed changes because we have the most costly system, are endowed with advanced technology, and we have inexcusable outcomes in several domains of care, including, infant mortality, and prenatal care – but not in cardiology.

2. These changes that are notable are:

  • The disparities in outcome are magnified by a large disparity in highest to lowest income bracket.
  • This is also reflected in educational status, and which plays out in childhood school lunches, and is also affected by larger class size and cutbacks in school programs.
  • This is not  helped by a large paralysis in the two party political system and the three legs of government unable to deal with work and distraction.
  • Unemployment is high, and the banking and home construction, home buying, and rental are in realignment, but interest rates are problematic.

3.  The  medical care system is affected by the issues above, but the complexity is not to be discounted.

  •  The medical schools are unable at this time to provide the influx of new physicians needed, so we depend on a major influx of physicians from other countries
  • The technology for laboratories, proteomic and genomic as well as applied medical research is rejuvenating the practice in cardiology more rapidly than any other field.
  • In fields that are imaging related the life cycle of instruments is shorter than the actual lifetime use of the instruments, which introduces a shortening of ROI.
  • Hospitals are consolidating into large consortia in order to maintain a more viable system for referral of specialty cases, and also is centralizing all terms of business related to billing.
  • There is reduction in independent physician practices that are being incorporated into the hospital enterprise with Part B billing under the Physician Organization – as in Partners in Greater Boston, with the exception of “concierge” medical practices.
  • There is consolidation of specialty laboratory services within state, with only the most specialized testing going out of state (Quest, LabCorp, etc.)
  • Medicaid is expanded substantially under the new ACA.
  • The federal government as provider of services is reducing the number of contractors for – medical devices, diabetes self-testing, etc.
  • The current rearrangements seeks to provide a balance between capital expenses and fixed labor costs that it can control, reduce variable costs (reagents, pharmaceutical), and to take in more patients with less delay and better performance – defined by outside agencies.

Cardiology, Genomics, and calcium ion signaling and ion-channels in cardiomyocyte function in health and disease – including heart failure, rhythm abnormalities, and the myoneural release of neurotransmitter at the vesicle junction.

This portion is outlined as follows:

2.1 Human Genome: Congenital Etiological Sources of Cardiovascular Disease

2.2 The Role of Calcium in Health and Disease

2.3 Vasculature and Myocardium: Diagnosing the Conditions of Disease

Genomics & Genetics of Cardiovascular Disease Diagnoses

actin cytoskeleton

wall stress, ventricular workload, contractile reserve

Genetic Base of Atherosclerosis and Loss of Arterial Elasticity with Aging

calcium and actin skeleton, signaling, cell motility

hypertension & vascular compliance

Genetics of Conduction Disease

Ca+ stimulated exostosis: calmodulin & PKC (neurotransmitter)

complications & MVR

disruption of Ca2+ homeostasis cardiac & vascular smooth muscle

synaptotagmin as Ca2+ sensor & vesicles

atherosclerosis & ion channels

It is increasingly clear that there are mutations that underlie many human diseases, and this is true of the cardiovascular system.  The mutations are mistakes in the insertion of a purine nucleotide, which may or may not have any consequence.  This is why the associations that are being discovered in research require careful validation, and even require demonstration in “models” before pursuing the design of pharmacological “target therapy”.  The genomics in cardiovascular disease involves very serious congenital disorders that are asserted early in life, but the effects of and development of atherosclerosis involving large and medium size arteries has a slow progression and is not dominated by genomic expression.  This is characterized by loss of arterial elasticity. In addition there is the development of heart failure, which involves the cardiomyocyte specifically.  The emergence of regenerative medical interventions, based on pleuripotent inducible stem cell therapy is developing rapidly as an intervention in this sector.

Finally, it is incumbent on me to call attention to the huge contribution that research on calcium (Ca2+) signaling has made toward the understanding of cardiac contraction and to the maintenance of the heart rhythm.  The heart is a syncytium, different than skeletal and smooth muscle, and the innervation is by the vagus nerve, which has terminal endings at vesicles which discharge at the myocyte junction.  The heart specifically has calmodulin kinase CaMK II, and it has been established that calmodulin is involved in the calcium spark that triggers contraction.  That is only part of the story.  Ion transport occurs into or out of the cell, the latter termed exostosis.  Exostosis involves CaMK II and pyruvate kinase (PKC), and they have independent roles.  This also involves K+-Na+-ATPase.  The cytoskeleton is also discussed, but the role of aquaporin in water transport appears elsewhere, as the transport of water between cells.  When we consider the Gibbs-Donnan equilibrium, which precedes the current work by a century, we recall that there is an essential balance between extracellular Na+ + Ca2+ and the intracellular K+ + Mg2+, and this has been superceded by an incompletely defined relationship between ions that are cytoplasmic and those that are mitochondrial.  The glass is half full!


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The Cost to Value Conundrum in Cardiovascular Healthcare Provision

The Cost to Value Conundrum in Cardiovascular Healthcare Provision

Author: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

I write this introduction to Volume 2 of the e-series on Cardiovascular Diseases, which curates the basic structure and physiology of the heart, the vasculature, and related structures, e.g., the kidney, with respect to:

1. Pathogenesis
2. Diagnosis
3. Treatment

Curation is an introductory portion to Volume Two, which is necessary to introduce the methodological design used to create the following articles. More needs not to be discussed about the methodology, which will become clear, if only that the content curated is changing based on success or failure of both diagnostic and treatment technology availability, as well as the systems needed to support the ongoing advances.  Curation requires:

  • meaningful selection,
  • enrichment, and
  • sharing combining sources and
  • creation of new synnthesis

Curators have to create a new perspective or idea on top of the existing media which supports the content in the original. The curator has to select from the myriad upon myriad options available, to re-share and critically view the work. A search can be overwhelming in size of the output, but the curator has to successfully pluck the best material straight out of that noise.

Part 1 is a highly important treatment that is not technological, but about the system now outdated to support our healthcare system, the most technolog-ically advanced in the world, with major problems in the availability of care related to economic disparities.  It is not about technology, per se, but about how we allocate healthcare resources, about individuals’ roles in a not full list of lifestyle maintenance options for self-care, and about the important advances emerging out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), impacting enormously on Medicaid, which depends on state-level acceptance, on community hospital, ambulatory, and home-care or hospice restructuring, which includes the reduction of management overhead by the formation of regional healthcare alliances, the incorporation of physicians into hospital-based practices (with the hospital collecting and distributing the Part B reimbursement to the physician, with “performance-based” targets for privileges and payment – essential to the success of an Accountable Care Organization (AC)).  One problem that ACA has definitively address is the elimination of the exclusion of patients based on preconditions.  One problem that has been left unresolved is the continuing existence of private policies that meet financial capabilities of the contract to provide, but which provide little value to the “purchaser” of care.  This is a holdout that persists in for-profit managed care as an option.  A physician response to the new system of care, largely fostered by a refusal to accept Medicaid, is the formation of direct physician-patient contracted care without an intermediary.

In this respect, the problem is not simple, but is resolvable.  A proposal for improved economic stability has been prepared by Edward Ingram. A concern for American families and businesses is substantially addressed in a macroeconomic design concept, so that financial services like housing, government, and business finance, savings and pensions, boosting confidence at every level giving everyone a better chance of success in planning their personal savings and lifetime and business finances.

Part 2 is a collection of scientific articles on the current advances in cardiac care by the best trained physicians the world has known, with mastery of the most advanced vascular instrumentation for medical or surgical interventions, the latest diagnostic ultrasound and imaging tools that are becoming outdated before the useful lifetime of the capital investment has been completed.  If we tie together Part 1 and Part 2, there is ample room for considering  clinical outcomes based on individual and organizational factors for best performance. This can really only be realized with considerable improvement in information infrastructure, which has miles to go.  Why should this be?  Because for generations of IT support systems, they are historically focused on billing and have made insignificant inroads into the front-end needs of the clinical staff.

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Atherosclerosis Independence: Genetic Polymorphisms of Ion Channels Role in the Pathogenesis of Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction and Myocardial Ischemia (Coronary Artery Disease (CAD))

Reviewer and Co-Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP


Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The role of ion channels in Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase: regulation of ion
transport across the plasma membrane has been studied by our Team in 2012 and 2013. This is article TWELVE in a 13 article series listed at the end of this article.

Chiefly, our sources of inspiration were the following:

1.            2013 Nobel work on vesicles and calcium flux at the neuromuscular junction

Machinery Regulating Vesicle Traffic, A Major Transport System in our Cells 

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to Dr. James E. Rothman, Dr. Randy W. Schekman and Dr. Thomas C. Südhof for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells. This represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of how the eukaryotic cell, with its complex internal compartmentalization, organizes the routing of molecules packaged in vesicles to various intracellular destinations, as well as to the outside of the cell. Specificity in the delivery of molecular cargo is essential for cell function and survival.

Synaptotagmin functions as a Calcium Sensor: How Calcium Ions Regulate the fusion of vesicles with cell membranes during Neurotransmission

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

2. Perspectives on Nitric Oxide in Disease Mechanisms

available on Kindle Store @

3.            Professor David Lichtstein, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dean, School of Medicine

Lichtstein’s main research focus is the regulation of ion transport across the plasma membrane of eukaryotic cells. His work led to the discovery that specific steroids that have crucial roles, as the regulation of cell viability, heart contractility, blood pressure and brain function. His research has implications for the fundamental understanding of body functions, as well as for several pathological states such as heart failure, hypertension and neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Physiologist, Professor Lichtstein, Chair in Heart Studies at The Hebrew University elected Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

4.            Professor Roger J. Hajjar, MD at Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Calcium Cycling (ATPase Pump) in Cardiac Gene Therapy: Inhalable Gene Therapy for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and Percutaneous Intra-coronary Artery Infusion for Heart Failure: Contributions by Roger J. Hajjar, MD

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

5.            Seminal Curations by Dr. Aviva Lev-Ari on Genetics and Genomics of Cardiovascular Diseases with a focus on Conduction and Cardiac Contractility

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN and Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Other related research by the Team of Leaders in Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence published on the Open Access Online Scientific Journal

See References to articles at the end of this article on

  • ION CHANNEL and Cardiovascular Diseases

  • Calcium Role in Cardiovascular Diseases – The Role of Calcium Calmodulin Kinase  (CKCaII) and Ca(2) flux
  • Mitochondria and Oxidative Stress Role in Cardiovascular Diseases

Thus, the following article follows a series of articles on ion-channels and cardiac contractility mentioned, above. The following article is closely related to the work of Prof. Lichtstein.

These investigators studied the possible correlation between

  • Myocardial Ischemia (Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)) aka Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) and
  • single-nucleotide polymorphisms  (SNPs) genes encoding several regulators involved in Coronary Blood Flow Regulation (CBFR), including
  • ion channels acting in vascular smooth muscle and/or
  • endothelial cells of coronary arteries.

They completely analyzed exon 3 of both KCNJ8 and KCNJ11 genes (Kir6.1 and Kir6.2 subunit, respectively) as well as

  • the whole coding region of KCN5A gene (Kv1.5 channel).
The work suggests certain genetic polymorphisms may represent a non-modifiable protective factor that could be used
  • to identify individuals at relatively low-risk for cardiovascular disease
  • an independent protective role of the
    • rs5215_GG against developing CAD and
    • a trend for rs5219_AA to be associated with protection against coronary microvascular dysfunction

Their findings are a lead into further investigations on ion channels and IHD affecting the microvasculature.

Role of genetic polymorphisms of ion channels in the pathophysiology of coronary microvascular dysfunction and ischemic heart disease

BasicResCardiol(2013)108:387   http//

F Fedele1•M Mancone1•WM Chilian2•P Severino2•E Canali•S Logan•ML DeMarchis3•M Volterrani4•R Palmirotta3•F Guadagni3

1Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Nephrology, Anesthesiology and Geriatric Sciences,Sapienza University of Rome, UmbertoI Policlinic, Rome, Italy
2Department of Integrative Medical Sciences, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown,OH
3Department of Advanced Biotechnologies and Bioimaging, IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana,Rome,It
4Cardiovascular Research Unit, Department of Medical Sciences, Centre for Clinical and Basic Research, Raffaele Pisana, Rome, Italy (CBFR)

BasicResCardiol(2013)108:387   http//
This article is published with open access at


Conventionally,ischemic heart disease (IHD) study is equated with large vessel coronary disease (CAD). However, recent evidence has suggested

  • a role of compromised microvascular regulation in the etiology of IHD.

Because regulation of coronary blood flow likely involves

  • activity of specific ion-channels, and
  • key factors involved in endothelium-dependent dilation,

genetic anomalies of ion-channels or specific endothelial-regulators may underlie coronary microvascular disease.

We aimed to evaluate the clinical impact of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in genes encoding for

  • ion-channels expressed in the coronary vasculature and the possible
  • correlation with IHD resulting from microvascular dysfunction.

242 consecutive patients who were candidates for coronary angiography were enrolled. A prospective, observational, single-center study was conducted, 

  • analyzing genetic polymorphisms relative to

(1) NOS3 encoding for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS);
(2) ATP2A2 encoding for the Ca/H-ATP-ase pump (SERCA);
(3) SCN5A encoding for the voltage-dependent Na channel (Nav1.5);
(4) KCNJ8 and in KCNJ11 encoding for the Kir6.1and Kir6.2 subunits
of genetic K-ATP channels, respectively;and
(5) KCN5A encoding for the voltage-gated K channel (Kv1.5).

No significant associations between clinical IHD manifestations and

  • polymorphisms for SERCA, Kir6.1, and Kv1.5. were observed (p[0.05),

whereas specific polymorphisms detected in eNOS, as well as in Kir6.2 and Nav1.5 were found to be correlated with

  • IHD and microvascular dysfunction.

 Interestingly, genetic polymorphisms of ion-channels  seem to have an important clinical impact

  • influencing the susceptibility for microvascular dysfunction and (IHD,
  • independent of the presence of classic cardiovascular risk factors: atherosclerosis   


Keywords: Ion-channels, Genetic polymorphisms, Coronary microcirculation, Endothelium, Atherosclerosis Ischemic heart disease


Historically, in the interrogation of altered vascular function in patientswith ischemic heart disease (IHD), scientists have focused their attention on the correlation between

  • endothelial dysfunction and
  • atherosclerosis [11, 53, 6567].

The endothelium-independent dysfunction in coronary microcirculation and its possible correlations with  

  • atherosclerotic disease and
  • myocardial ischemia has not been extensively investigated.

In normal conditions, coronary blood flow regulation (CBFR) is mediated by several different systems, including

  • endothelial,
  • nervous,
  • neurohumoral,
  • myogenic, and
  • metabolic mechanisms [2, 10, 14, 15, 63, 64, 69].

Physiologic CBFR depends also on several ion channels, such as

  • ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels,
  • voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels,
  • voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels, and others.

Ion channels regulate the concentration of calcium in both

  • coronary smooth muscle and endothelial cells, which
  • modulates the degree of contractile tone in vascular muscle and
  • the amount of nitric oxide that is produced by the endothelium

Ion channels play a primary role in the rapid response of both

  • the endothelium and vascular smooth muscle cells of coronary arterioles
  • to the perpetually fluctuating demands of the myocardium for blood flow
    [5, 6, 13, 18, 33, 45, 46, 51, 52, 61, 73, 75].

Despite this knowledge, there still exists an important gap about 

  • the clinical relevance and 
  • causes of microvascular dysfunction in IHD

By altering the overall

  • regulation of blood flow in the coronary system,
  • microvascular dysfunction could alter the normal distribution of shear forces in large coronary arteries

Proximal coronary artery stenosis could

  • contribute to microvascular dysfunction [29, 60]. But
  • ion channels play a critical role in microvascular endothelial
  • and smooth muscle function.

Therefore, we hypothesized  that alterations of coronary ion  channels could be the primary cause in a chain of events leading to

  • microvascular dysfunction and 
  • myocardial ischemia

independent of the presence of atherosclerosis.

Therefore, the objective of our study was to evaluate the possible correlation between

  • IHD and single-nucleotide polymorphisms  (SNPs) for genes encoding several regulators involved in CBFR, including
  • ion channels acting in vascular smooth muscle and/or
  • endothelial cells of coronary arteries.


Implications of the present work. This study describes the possible correlation of polymorphisms in genes encoding for CBFR effectors (i.e., ion channels, nitric oxide synthase, and SERCA) with the susceptibility for microcirculation dysfunction and IHD.

Our main findings are as follows: (Group 3 – Normal Patients – anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries).

  • In Group 3, the genotype distribution of SNP rs5215 (Kir6.2/KCNJ11) moderately deviates from the HW equilibrium (p = 0.05).
  • In Group 1 (CAD), the polymorphism rs6599230 of Nav1.5/SCN5A showed deviation from HW equilibrium (p = 0.017).
  • The genotypic distribution of rs1799983 polymorphism for eNOS/NOS3 is inconsistent with the HW equilibrium in groups 1, 2, and 3 (p = 0.0001, p = 0.0012 and p = 0.0001, respectively).

Haplotype analyses revealed that there is no linkage disequilibrium between polymorphisms of the analyzed genes. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of T2DM (p = 0.185) or dyslipidemia (p = 0.271) between groups, as shown in Table2. In regards to genetic characteristics, no significant differences between the three.

1. A marked HW disequilibrium in the genotypic distribution of rs1799983 polymorphism for eNOS/NOS3 was observed in all three populations. Moreover, this SNP seems to be an independent risk factor for microvascular dysfunction, as evidenced by multivariate analysis;
2. The SNPs rs5215_GG, rs5218_CT, and rs5219_AA for Kir6.2/KCJ11 could reduce susceptibility to IHD, since they were present more frequently in patients with anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries;
3. In particular, with regard to rs5215 for Kir6.2/KCJ11, we observed a moderate deviation from the HW equilibrium in the genotypic
distribution in the control group. In addition, this genotype appears to be an independent protective factor in the development of IHD, as evidenced by multivariate analysis;
4. Furthermore, the trend observed for the SNP  rs5219_AA of Kir6.2/KCNJ11 may suggest an independent protective factor  in the development of coronary microvascular dysfunction
5. The rs1805124_GG genotype of Nav1.5/SCN5A seems to play a role against CAD;
6. No association seems to exist between the polymorphisms of SERCA/ATP2A2, Kir6.1/KCNJ8, and Kv1.5/KCNA5 and the presence of IHD;
7. All groups are comparable regarding the cardiovascular risk factors of T2DM and dyslipidemia, illustrating a potentially important implication of genetic polymorphisms in the susceptibility to IHD.

It is important to underline that the control group (Group 3) is a high-risk population, because of their cardiovascular risk factors

  • hypertension = 17 %,
  • T2DM = 34.1 %,
  • dyslipidemia = 41.4 %,

with an appropriate indication for coronary angiography, in accordance with current guidelines. Nevertheless, these patients were demonstrated to have both anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries. Moreover, as shown in Tables 2 and 3, we observed that

  • rs5215_GG, rs5218_CT and rs5219_AA for Kir6.2/KCNJ11 had a higher prevalence in this group,compared to patients with CAD
  • and patients with microvascular dysfunction.

Moreover, as shown in Table 4, the presence of the rs5215_GG polymorphism for the Kir6.2 subunit was

  • inversely correlated with the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and CAD,whereas
  • rs5219_AA of the Kir6.2 subunit trended towards an inverse correlation with coronary microvascular dysfunction.

On the other hand, the SNP rs1799983_GT of eNOS was

  • confirmed to be an independent risk factor for microvascular dysfunction.

Our data suggest that the presence of certain genetic polymorphisms may represent a non-modifiable protective factor that could be used

  • to identify individuals at relatively low-risk for cardiovascular disease,
  • regardless of the presence of T2DM and dyslipidemia.

Current Clinical and Research Context

In normal coronary arteries, particularly the coronary microcirculation, there are several different mechanisms of CBFR, including

  • endothelial, neural, myogenic, and metabolic mediators [2, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 37, 55, 63, 64, 69].

In particular, endothelium-dependent vasodilation acts mainly via eNOS-derived nitric oxide (NO) in response to acetylcholine and shear stress.

  • NO increases intracellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate. It also causes vasodilation via
  • activation of both K-Ca channels and K-ATP channels.

Recent data suggested a pathophysiologically relevant role for the polymorphisms of eNOS/NOS3 in human coronary vasomotion [40–43]. Our data suggest that rs1799983_GT at exon 7 (Glu298Asp, GAG-GAT) of eNOS/NOS3 represents

  • an independent risk factor for coronary micro-vascular dysfunction, which agrees with a recent meta-analysis reporting an
  • association of this SNP with CAD in Asian populations [74]. In addition,
  • this SNP has been associated with endothelial dysfunction, although the mechanisms are not well defined [30].

Consistently, a recent study performed on 60 Indian patients with documented history of CAD reported a significantly higher frequency of rs1799983 (p.05) compared to control subjects, indicating that

  • variations in NOS3 gene may be useful clinical markers of endothelial dysfunction in CAD [54].
Interestingly, another association between rs1799983_GT and impaired collateral development has been observed in patientswith a

  • high-grade coronary stenosis or occlusion [19].
As is well known, the significance of the mechanisms of CBFR is partly determined by the location within the coronary vasculature. For instance, for vessels with a diameter of < 200 µm—which comprise the coronary microcirculation—metabolic regulation of coronary blood flow is considered the most important mechanism [24, 63]. Importantly, many of these mediators of metabolic regulation act through specific ion channels. In particular, in both coronary artery smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells
  • potassium channels determine the resting membrane potential (Em) and serve as targets of endogenous and therapeutic vasodilators [9, 27].
Several types of K+ channels are expressed in the coronary tree.
  • The K-ATP channels couple cell metabolic demand to conductance, via pore-forming (Kir6.1 and/or Kir6.2) subunits and regulatory
    [sulphonylurea-binding (SUR 1, 2A, or 2B)] subunits.
  • Kir6.x allows for channel inhibition by ATP, while SURx is responsible for channel activation by ADP and Mg2+.
K-ATP channel activation results in an outward flux of potassium and

  • consequent hyperpolarization, resulting in
  • voltage-gated calcium channel closure,
  • decreased Ca2+ influx, and ultimately
  • vasodilation [1, 5, 18, 20, 21, 33, 61, 62, 73, 75].

Our data do not support any significant difference regarding the Kir6.1 subunit of the K-ATP channel. On the other hand, this study suggests

  • an important role of specific SNPs for the Kir6.2 subunit (Tables 2, 3)—i.e., rs5215, rs5219, and rs5218—

in the susceptibility to IHD and microvascular dysfunction. These SNPs are among the most studied K-ATP channel polymorphisms, especially in the context of diabetes mellitus. In fact, in both Caucasian and Asian populations, these three SNPs as well as other genetic polymorphisms for the KCNJ11 gene have been associated with diabetes mellitus [34, 35, 44, 50, 57, 58, 70].

Nevertheless, the precise

  • structure–function impacts of the various amino acid substitutions remain unclear.

The rs5215 and rs5219 polymorphisms, also known as I337V and E23K, respectively, are highly linked with reported

  • concordance rates between 72 and 100 % [22, 23, 56].

The high concordance between rs5219 and rs5215 suggests that these polymorphisms

  • may have originated in a common ancestor, further indicating a
  • possible evolutionary advantage to their maintenance in the general population [49].

In our study, multivariate analysis suggests both an independent protective role of the

  • rs5215_GG against developing CAD and
  • a trend for rs5219_AA to be associated with protection against coronary microvascular dysfunction (Table 4a, b).
  • The variant rs5215_GG is a missense SNP located in the gene KCNJ11 at exon 1009 (ATC-GTC) and results in
    the substitution of isoleucine (I) residue with valine (V) [23].

Future studies are necessary to better understand the influence of this single amino acid variant on the function of the channel.

In humans, vasodilation of the coronary microvasculature in response to hypoxia and K-ATP channel opening
  • are both impaired in diabetes mellitus [39].
It is also described that gain-of-function mutations of the KCNJ11 gene cause neonatal diabetes mellitus, and loss-of-function mutations lead to congenital hyperinsulinism [43]. Our study is not discordant with previous studies about the correlation of SNPs of the Kir6.2 subunit and diabetes mellitus. Rather, our findings show that these SNPs are correlated with anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries,
  • independent of the presence of either diabetes mellitus or dyslipidemia.
These data suggest the possibility that these particular SNPs may identify individuals with decreased risk for coronary microcirculatory dysfunction and IHD,
  • regardless of the presence of T2DM and/or dyslipidemia.

However, further studies are necessary to confirm these findings. In this context, to better investigate the implications of genetic variation in the K-ATP channel,

  • future studies should include ion channel’s functional modification due to the SNPs and analysis of SUR subunits.

More than 40-kV channel subunits have been identified in the heart, and sections of human coronary smooth muscle cells demonstrate Kv1.5 immunoreactivity [16, 17, 27, 38]. Through constant regulation of smooth muscle tone, Kv channels contribute to the control of coronary microvascular resistance [4, 7]. Pharmacologic molecules that inhibit Kv1.5 channels such as

  • pergolide [25],
  • 4-amino-pyridine [32], and
  • correolide [17]

lead to coronary smooth muscle cell contraction and block the coupling between

  • cardiac metabolic demand and
  • coronary blood flow.

However, no significant differences were identified between the study groups in terms of the particular polymorphisms for Kv1.5 that were analyzed in this study. Expression of

  • the voltage-dependent Na+ channel (Nav) has been demonstrated in coronary microvascular endothelia cells [3, 66].

Our analysis reveals a possible implication of the polymorphism rs1805124_GG for Nav1.5 channel with the presence of anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries. This SNP leads to a homozygous 1673A-G transition, resulting in a His558-to-Arg (H558R) substitution. It is important to underline that

  • our data are the first to correlate the polymorphism rs1805124_GG with IHD.

Further research is necessary to confirm the observed implication.

Finally, we have analyzed the sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium transporting Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA), which is fundamental in the regulation of intracellular Ca2+ concentration [6].

SERCA is an intracellular pump that

  • catalyzes the hydrolysis of ATP coupled with the
  • translocation of calcium from the cytosol into the lumen of the sarcoplasmic reticulum.

Although this pump plays a critical role in regulation of the contraction/relaxation cycle, our analysis did not reveal any apparent association between

  • genetic variants of SERCA and the
  • prevalence of microvascular dysfunction or IHD.


This pilot study is the first to compare the prevalence of SNPs in genes encoding coronary ion channels between patients
  • with CAD or microvascular dysfunction and those with both anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries.
Taken together, these results suggest the possibility of associations between SNPs and IHD and microvascular dysfunction, although

  • the precise manners by which specific genetic polymorphisms affect ion channel function and expression
have to be clarified by further research involving larger cohorts.

Limitations and future perspectives

Notable limitations of this pilot study are as follows:

1. Due to the lack of pre-existing data, the power calculation was performed in advance on the basis of assumptions of allele frequencies and the population at risk.
2. The sample size for each group is small, mainly due to both the difficulty in enrolling patients with normal coronary arteries and normal microvascular function (group 3) and the elevated costs of the supplies such as Doppler flow wires.
3. There is a lack of ethnic diversity of our cohort.
4. Currently, there is an absence of supportive findings in another independent cohort or population. However, our pilot study included patients within a well-defined, specific population and was aimed to identify the presence of statistical associations between selected genetic polymorphisms and the prevalence of a specific disease.
5. There is a lack of functional characterization of the described genetic polymorphisms.
6. We have not identified any correlation between novel SNPs and IHD. Nevertheless, we completely analyzed exon 3 of both KCNJ8 and KCNJ11 genes (Kir6.1 and Kir6.2 subunit, respectively) as well as the whole coding region of KCN5A gene (Kv1.5 channel).  Moreover, we examined previously described SNPs since there are no data in the literature regarding the possible association of the prevalences of those polymorphisms in the examined population.More extensive studies are necessary to confirm our  findings, possibly with a larger number of patients. Future investigations are also required to confirm the roles of ion  channels in the pathogenesis of coronary microvascular dysfunction and IHD. These studies should involve analysis of both other subunits of the K-ATP channels

  • sulfonylurea receptor, SURx and further coronary ion channels (e.g., calcium-dependent K channels), as well as
  • in vitro evaluation of ion channel activity by patch clamp and analysis of channel expression in the human cardiac tissue.

Moreover, to better address the significance of microvascular dysfunction in IHD, it could be interesting to analyze

  • typical atherosclerosis susceptibility genes (e.g., PPAP2B, ICAM1, et al.).


In this prospective, observational, single-center study – 242 consecutive patients admitted to our department were enrolled with

  • the indication to undergo coronary angiography .

All patients matched inclusion criteria

  1. age [18];
  2. suspected or documented diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome or stable angina
  3. with indication(s) for coronary angiography, in accordance with current guidelines [36, 68], and
  4. the same ethno-geographic Caucasian origin) and

Exclusion Criteria

  1. previous allergic reaction to iodine contrast,
  2. renal failure,
  3. simultaneous genetic disease,
  4. cardiogenic shock,
  5. non- ischemic cardiomyopathy

All patients signed an informed consent document  –

prior to participation in the study, which included

  • acknowledgement of the testing procedures to be performed
    (i.e., coronary angiography; intracoronary tests; genetic analysis, and processing of personal data).

The study was approved by the Institution’s Ethics Committee.
All clinical and instrumental characteristics were collected in a dedicated  database.

 Study Design

(a)  Standard therapies were administered, according to current guidelines [36, 68].
(b) An echocardiography was performed before and after coronary angiography
(c)  Coronary angiography was performed using radial artery or femoral artery
Judkins approach via sheath insertion.
(d) In patients showing normal epicardial arteries, intracoronary functional tests
were performed through Doppler flow wire to evaluate

  1. both endothelium-dependent microvascular function
    [via intracoronary (IC) infusion of acetylcholine (2.5–10 lg)] and
  2. nonendothelium-dependent microvascular function
    [via IC infusion of adenosine (5 lg)] [31]. 

(e) In all enrolled patients, a peripheral blood sample for genetic analysis was taken. 

On the basis  of the  coronary angiography and the intracoronary functional tests, 

  • the 242 patients were divided into three groups (see also Fig. 1).
  1. Group 1: 155 patients with anatomic coronary alteration
    (comprising patients with acute coronary syndrome and chronic stable angina).

    • microvascular dysfunction defined as coronary flow reserve (CFR) \ 2.5
    • after IC infusion of acetylcholine and adenosine].
  2. Group 2: 46 patients with functional coronary alteration
    [normal coronary arteries as assessed by angiography, and

    • as assessed by angiography and with normal functional tests
      (CFR C 2.5 after intracoronary infusion of acetylcholine and adenosine) (Fig. 1).
  3. Group 3: 41 patients with anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries

BRC 2013 fedele genetic polymorphisms of ion channels.pdf_page_2

Fig. 1 Study design: 242 consecutive not randomized patients matching inclusion and exclusion criteria were enrolled.
In all patients, coronary angiography was performed, according to current ESC/ACC/AHA guidelines. In patients with
angiographically normal coronary artery, intracoronary functional tests were performed. In 242 patients
(155 with coronary artery disease, 46 patients with micro-vascular dysfunction, endothelium and/or non-endothelium
dependent, and 41 patients with anatomically and functionally normal coronary arteries) genetic analysis was performed.

Genetic Analysis

In conformity with the study protocol, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) whole blood samples were collected according
to the international guidelines reported in the literature [48]. Samples were transferred to the Interinstitutional Multidisciplinary
BioBank (BioBIM) of IRCCS San Raffaele Pisana (Rome) and stored at -80 C until DNA extraction. Bibliographic research by
PubMed and web tools OMIM (, Entrez SNP (, and
Ensembl ( were used to select variants of genes involved in signaling pathways

  • related to ion channels and/or reported to be associated with
  • microvascular dysfunction and/or myocardial ischemia and/or
  • diseases correlated to IHD, such as diabetes mellitus.
Polymorphisms for the following genes were analyzed:
  1. NOS3 (endothelial nitric oxide synthase, eNOS),
  2. ATP2A2 (Ca2+/H+-ATPase pump, SERCA2),
  3. SCN5A (voltage-dependent Na+ channel,
  4. Nav1.5),
  5. KCNJ11 (ATP-sensitive K+ channel, Kir6.2 subunit),
  6. KCNJ8 (ATP-sensitive K+ channel, Kir6.1 subunit) and
  7. KCNA5 (voltage-gated K+ channel, Kv1.5).

In particular, we completely analyzed by direct sequencing

  • exon 3 of KCNJ8 (Kir6.1 subunit), which includes eight SNPs, as well as
  • the whole coding region of KCNA5 (Kv1.5 channel), which includes 32 SNPs and
  • four previously described variants [26, 47, 71, 72].
We also examined
  • the whole coding region of KCNJ11 (Kir6.2 subunit), for which sequence variants are described [26, 28].

All SNPs and sequence variants analyzed—a total of 62 variants of 6 genes—are listed in Table 1.

BRC 2013 fedele genetic polymorphisms of ion channels_page_004
BRC 2013 fedele genetic polymorphisms of ion channels_page_005

DNA was isolated from EDTA anticoagulated whole blood using the MagNA Pure LC instrument and theMagNA Pure LC
total DNA isolation kit I (Roche Diagnostics, Mannheim, Germany) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Standard
PCR was performed in a GeneAmp PCR System 9700 (Applied Biosystems, CA) using HotStarTaq Master Mix
(HotStarTaq Master Mix Kit, QIAGEN Inc, CA). PCR conditions and primer sequences are listed in Table 1.

In order to exclude preanalytical and analytical errors, all direct sequencing analyses were carried out on both
strands using Big Dye Terminator v3.1 Cycle Sequencing kit
(Applied Biosystems), run on an ABI 3130
Genetic Analyzer (Applied Biosystems), and repeated on PCR products obtained from new nucleic acid extractions.
All data analyses were performed in a blind fashion.

Statistical Analysis

This report, intended as pilot study, is the first to compare

  • the prevalence of SNPs in genes encoding  several effectors (including ion channels)
  • involved in CBFR between these groups of patients.

No definite sample size could be calculated to establish a power analysis. groups of patients. However, assuming

  • a 15 % prevalence of normal  macrovascular and microvascular coronary findings in unselected patients
    undergoing coronary angiography,

we estimated that

  • a sample size of at least 150 patients could enable the computation of two-sided 95 % confidence intervals for
    • such prevalence estimates ranging between -5.0 and + 5.0 %.

The significance of the differences of observed alleles and genotypes between groups, as well as

  • analysis of multiple inheritance models for SNPs were also tested
    (co-dominant, dominant, recessive, over-dominant and log-additive)
  • using a free web-based application (http://213. 151.99.166/index.php?module=Snpstats)
  • designed from a genetic epidemiology  point of view to analyze association studies.

Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) was used to determine the best-fitting inheritance model for analyzed SNPs,

  • with the model with the lowest AIC reflecting the best balance of  goodness-of-fit and parsimony.

Moreover,  the allelic frequencies were estimated by gene counting, and the genotypes were scored. For each gene,

  • the observed numbers of each genotype were compared with those expected for a population in Hardy–Weinberg (HW) equilibrium
  • using a free web-based application  ( [59].

Linkage disequilibrium coefficient (D0) and  haplotype analyses were assessed using  the  Haploview 4.1 program.
Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software package for Windows v.16.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL).

All categorical variables are expressed as percentages, and all continuous variables as mean ± standard deviation.
Differences between categorical variables

  • were analyzed by Pearson’s Chi-SQ test.

Given the presence of three groups, differences  between continuous variables, were calculated using
(including the number of SNPs tested),

  • one-way ANOVA; a post-hoc analysis with Bonferroni correction was made for multiple comparisons.

Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses

  • the independent impact of genetic polymorphisms on
    • coronary artery disease and microvascular dysfunction,

were performed to assess the independent impact of

  • genetic polymorphisms on coronary artery disease
    and microvascular dysfunction

while adjusting for other confounding variables.  The following parameters were entered into the model:

  • age,
  • male gender,
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM),
  • systemic arterial hypertension,
  • dyslipidemia,
  • smoking status, and
  • family history of myocardial infarction (MI).

Only variables with a p value < 0.10 after univariate analysis were entered

  • into the multivariable model as covariates.

A two-tailed p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Definition of Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Patients were classified as having T2DM if they had

  • fasting levels of glucose of >126 mg/dL in two separate measurements or
  • if they were taking hypoglycemic drugs.

Systemic arterial hypertension was defined as

  • systolic blood pressure  > 140 mmHg / diastolic blood pressure > 90 mmHg
  • in two separate measurements or
  • if the patient was currently taking antihypertensive drugs.

Dyslipidemia was considered to be present if

  • serum cholesterol levels were>220 mg/dL or
  • if the patient was being treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Family history of MI was defined as a first-degree relative with MI before the age of 60 years.


Sixty-two polymorphisms distributed among six genes coding for
  • nitric oxide synthase,
  • the SERCA pump, and
  • ion channels
    • were screened for sequence variations using PCR amplification and
    • direct DNA sequencing analysis

in the population of

  • 155 patients with CAD (group 1),
  • 46 patients with microvascular dysfunction (group 2), and
  • 41 patients with normal coronary arteries and
    • normal endothelium dependent and endothelium-independent vasodilation (group 3).
In Group 3, the genotype distribution of

  • SNP rs5215 (Kir6.2/KCNJ11) moderately deviates from the HW equilibrium (p = 0.05).
In Group 1 (CAD), the polymorphism

  • rs6599230 of Nav1.5/SCN5A showed deviation from HW equilibrium (p = 0.017).
The genotypic distribution of groups in terms of polymorphisms for
  • eNOS/NOS3, SERCA/ATP2A2, Nav1.5/SCN5A, Kir6.1/KCNJ8, or Kv1.5/KCNA5
were noticed. However, significant differences (p.05) for the SNPs
  • rs5215_GG, and
  • rs5219_AA of Kir6.2/KCNJ11 were observed,
as shown in Table 2. 

Table 3 displays 
significant differences between normal subjects (group 3) and
  • patients with either CAD (group 1) or microvascular dysfunction (group 2).

BRC 2013 fedele genetic polymorphisms of ion channels_page_006

When correcting for other covariates as risk factors, the rs5215_GG genotype of Kir6.2/KCNJ11 was found to be 

  • significantly associated with CAD after multivariate analysis (OR = 0.319, p = 0.047, 95 % CI = 0.100–0.991), evidencing
  • a ‘‘protective’’ role of this genotype, as shown in Table 4a.

Similarly, a trend that supports this role of Kir6.2/KCNJ11 was also observed

  • in microvascular dysfunction for rs5219 AA. In contrast,
  • rs1799983_GT for eNOS/NOS3 was identified as an independent risk factor

following multivariate analysis (Table 4b), which agrees with literature findings as described below. 

BRC 2013 fedele genetic polymorphisms of ion channels_page_007


BasicResCardiol(2013)108:387   http//

Conflict of interest On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.


1. Alekseev AE, Hodgson DM, Karger AB, Park S, Zingman LV, Terzic A (2005) ATP-sensitive K? channel channel/enzyme multimer: metabolic gating in the heart. J Mol
Cell Cardiol 38:895–905. doi:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2005.02.022
2. Baumgart D, Naber C, Haude M, Oldenburg O, Erbel R, Heusch G, Siffert W (1999) G protein beta3 subunit 825T allele and enhanced coronary vasoconstriction on
alpha(2)-adrenoceptor activation. Circ Res 85:965–969. doi:10.1161/01.RES.85.10.965
3. Belardinelli L, Shryock JC, Fraser H (2006) Inhibition of the late sodium current as a potential cardioprotective principle: effects of the late sodium current inhibitor
ranolazine. Heart 92:6–14. doi:10.1136/hrt.2005.078790
4. Berwick ZC, Moberly SP, Kohr MC, Morrical EB, Kurian MM, Dick GM, Tune JD (2012) Contribution of voltage-dependent K+ and Ca2+ channels to coronary pressure-
flow autoregulation. Basic Res Cardiol 107:264. doi:10.1007/s00395-012-0264-6
5. Brayden JE (2002) Functional roles of KATP channels in vascular smooth muscle. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 29:312–316. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1681.2002.03650.x
6. Brini M, Carafoli E (2009) Calcium pumps in health and disease. Physiol Rev 89:1341–1378. doi:10.1152/physrev.00032.2008
7. Chen TT, Luykenaar KD, Walsh EJ, Walsh MP, Cole WC (2006) Key role of Kv1 channels in vasoregulation. Circ Res 99:53–60. doi:10.1161/01.RES.0000229654.45090.57
8. Cohen KD, Jackson WF (2005) Membrane hyperpolarization is not required for sustained muscarinic agonist-induced increases in intracellular Ca2+ in arteriolar endothelial
cells. Microcirculation 12:169–182. doi:10.1080/10739680590904973
9. Daut J, Maier-Rudolph W, von Beckerath N, Mehrke G, Gu¨nter K, Goedel-Meinen L (1990) Hypoxic dilation of coronary arteries is mediated by ATP-sensitive potassium
channels. Science 247:1341–1344. doi:10.1126/science.2107575
10. Davidson SM, Duchen MR (2007) Endothelial mitochondria: contributing to vascular function and disease. Circ Res 100:1128–1141. doi:10.1161/01.RES.0000261970.18328.1d
…. 75

SOURCE for References 1-75

Basic Res Cardiol (2013) 108:387

Other related articles published on this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following: 

ION CHANNEL and Cardiovascular Diseases

Calcium Role in Cardiovascular Diseases

Part I: Identification of Biomarkers that are Related to the Actin Cytoskeleton

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Part II: Role of Calcium, the Actin Skeleton, and Lipid Structures in Signaling and Cell Motility

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Stephen Williams, PhD and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part III: Renal Distal Tubular Ca2+ Exchange Mechanism in Health and Disease

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Stephen J. Williams, PhD
 and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part IV: The Centrality of Ca(2+) Signaling and Cytoskeleton Involving Calmodulin Kinases and Ryanodine Receptors in Cardiac Failure, Arterial Smooth Muscle, Post-ischemic Arrhythmia, Similarities and Differences, and Pharmaceutical Targets

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part V: Ca2+-Stimulated Exocytosis:  The Role of Calmodulin and Protein Kinase C in Ca2+ Regulation of Hormone and Neurotransmitter

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP
Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part VI: Calcium Cycling (ATPase Pump) in Cardiac Gene Therapy: Inhalable Gene Therapy for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and Percutaneous Intra-coronary Artery Infusion for Heart Failure: Contributions by Roger J. Hajjar, MD

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part VII: Cardiac Contractility & Myocardium Performance: Ventricular Arrhythmias and Non-ischemic Heart Failure – Therapeutic Implications for Cardiomyocyte Ryanopathy (Calcium Release-related Contractile Dysfunction) and Catecholamine Responses

Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part VIII: Disruption of Calcium Homeostasis: Cardiomyocytes and Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells: The Cardiac and Cardiovascular Calcium Signaling Mechanism

Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part IX: Calcium-Channel Blockers, Calcium Release-related Contractile Dysfunction (Ryanopathy) and Calcium as Neurotransmitter Sensor

Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part X: Synaptotagmin functions as a Calcium Sensor: How Calcium Ions Regulate the fusion of vesicles with cell membranes during Neurotransmission

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Part XI: Sensors and Signaling in Oxidative Stress

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Part XII: Atherosclerosis Independence: Genetic Polymorphisms of Ion Channels Role in the Pathogenesis of Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction and Myocardial Ischemia (Coronary Artery Disease (CAD))

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Mitochondria and Oxidative Stress Role in Cardiovascular Diseases

Reversal of Cardiac Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Calcium Signaling, Cardiac Mitochondria and Metabolic Syndrome

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Cardiac Disorders

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Mitochondrial Metabolism and Cardiac Function

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Mitochondria and Cardiovascular Disease: A Tribute to Richard Bing

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MIT Scientists on Proteomics: All the Proteins in the Mitochondrial Matrix Identified

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Ritu Saxena, Ph.D.

Mitochondrial Damage and Repair under Oxidative Stress

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Nitric Oxide has a Ubiquitous Role in the Regulation of Glycolysis -with a Concomitant Influence on Mitochondrial Function

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FACP

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Read Full Post »

Gene Study of Blood Pressure Response to Dietary Potassium Intervention: Genetic Epidemiology of Salt Sensitivity

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Genome-Wide Linkage and Positional Candidate Gene Study of Blood Pressure Response to Dietary Potassium Intervention

The Genetic Epidemiology Network of Salt Sensitivity Study

Tanika N. Kelly, PhD, James E. Hixson, PhD, Dabeeru C. Rao, PhD, Hao Mei, MD, PhD,Treva K. Rice, PhD, Cashell E. Jaquish, PhD, Lawrence C. Shimmin, PhD, Karen Schwander, MS, Chung-Shuian Chen, MS, Depei Liu, PhD, Jichun Chen, MD,Concetta Bormans, PhD, Pramila Shukla, MS, Naveed Farhana, MS, Colin Stuart, BS,Paul K. Whelton, MD, MSc, Jiang He, MD, PhD and Dongfeng Gu, MD, PhD

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Epidemiology (T.N.K., H.M., C.-S.C., J.H.), Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and Department of Medicine (J.H.), Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, La; Department of Epidemiology (J.E.H., L.C.S., C.B., P.S., N.F., C.S.), University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Tex; Division of Biostatistics (D.C.R., T.K.R., K.S.), Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Mo; Division of Prevention and Population Sciences (C.E.J.), National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md; National Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology (D.L.), Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China; Cardiovascular Institute and Fuwai Hospital (J.C., D.G.), Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College and Chinese National Center for Cardiovascular Disease Control and Research, Beijing, China; and Office of the President (P.K.W.), Loyola University Health System and Medical Center, Maywood, Ill.

Correspondence to Dongfeng Gu, MD, PhD, Division of Population Genetics and Prevention, Cardiovascular Institute and Fuwai Hospital, 167 Beilishi Rd, Beijing 100037, China. E-mail


Background— Genetic determinants of blood pressure (BP) response to potassium, or potassium sensitivity, are largely unknown. We conducted a genome-wide linkage scan and positional candidate gene analysis to identify genetic determinants of potassium sensitivity.

Conclusions— Genetic regions on chromosomes 3 and 11 may harbor important susceptibility loci for potassium sensitivity. Furthermore, the AGTR1 gene was a significant predictor of BP responses to potassium intake.


Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics. 2010; 3: 539-547

Published online before print September 22, 2010,

doi: 10.1161/ CIRCGENETICS.110.940635

Read Full Post »

Heroes in Medical Research: Dr. Carmine Paul Bianchi Pharmacologist, Leader, and Mentor

Writer/Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Past articles in this Heroes in Medical Research series had focused on those seemingly small discoveries, sometimes gained serendipitously and through careful observation and experimentation, which led to some of our most important breakthroughs of our time.  I have tried to make the posts more about the people and less about the discoveries

However, though seminal discoveries are so important to the future of science (and should be celebrated), equally if not MORE IMPORTANT is the MENTORING of future scientists and the PROMOTION of fields of study.  One person who exemplified these values was Dr. Carmine Paul Bianchi, who had recently just passed away this August, and will be sorely missed in the field of pharmacology and toxicology.

For those who were not familiar with Dr. Bianchi I have curated some pertinent information about his work as a scientist, professor and Chairman in pharmacology, and leader and spokesperson for the field of pharmacology.  He was one of the founders of the Mid-Atlantic Pharmacology Society and was an advocate and influential in the careers of many pharmacologists and toxicologists.

Comments from fellow colleagues are very welcome (in comment section at end of post)

The following is separated in 3 sections:

  • An obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer
  •  A section of the history of the Pharmacology Department at Thomas Jefferson University where Dr. Bianchi was Chairman
  • A few important textbooks and scientific articles he had authored


Carmine Paul Bianchi, 86, pharmacology professor

Paul Bianchi















Carmine Paul Bianchi

By Bonnie L. Cook, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: August 20, 2013

Carmine Paul Bianchi, 86, of Boothwyn, a professor of pharmacology in Philadelphia for many years, died Tuesday, Aug. 13, of a digestive ailment at Taylor Hospice House in Ridley Park.

Born in Newark, N.J., and raised in Maplewood, Dr. Bianchi served as an Army surgical technician in Tilton General Hospital at Fort Dix from 1945 to 1947.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Columbia University in 1950, a master’s in physiology and biochemistry from Rutgers University in 1953, and a doctorate in physiology and physical chemistry in 1956 from Rutgers.

In the 1950s, he did research at Rutgers and was a public health fellow and visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

From 1961 to 1976, he held a number of jobs in the department of pharmacology in the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. That culminated in his being named professor of pharmacology.

Dr. Bianchi left in 1976 for Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, where he became pharmacology professor and chairman of the pharmacology department from 1976 to 1987. In 1987, he stepped down from the chairmanship but remained professor of pharmacology. He retired in 1997 as professor emeritus.

Dr. Bianchi was a member of many professional groups, including the New York Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He was a leader and author in pharmacology, helping edit an industry journal and making himself available for consultation to medical examiners and experts in toxicology.

He wrote or contributed to three books and 200 scientific papers and lectured widely. He enjoyed mentoring medical and graduate students.

His family called Dr. Bianchi “a true renaissance man” who was as comfortable discussing English, history, and politics as he was the sciences.




The following was taken from a history of  Department of Pharmacology  at Thomas Jefferson University  and can be viewed at:



Carmine Paul Bianchi, Ph.D;

Third Chairman (1976-1986)

The new Chairman of the Department, effective

July 1, 1976, was Carmine Paul Bianchi, Ph.D.

(Figure 8-3) from the University of Pennsylvania

School of Medicine, where he had been Professor

of Pharmacology since [969 and a member of the

faculty of that Department since 1961.

Dr. Bianchi was born on April 9, [927, in

Newark, New Jersey. After receiving his diploma

at Columbia High School in 1945, he spent two

years in the Army Medical Corps as Technical Sgt.

Fourth Grade. He then attended Columbia

University, where he majored in chemistry and

obtained the B.A. degree in 1950. Like Dr.

Gruber, the first Chairman of the Pharmacology

Department at Jefferson, Bianchi earned his Ph.D.

in physiology. He pursued his graduate studies at

Rutgers University, supplementing his physiology

major with a biochemistry minor for the M.S.

degree in [953 and with a physical chemistry minor

for the Ph.D. degree in 1956. Dr. Bianchi then

spent several years at the National Institutes of

Health-two years as a Public Health Fellow and

one as a Visiting Scientist. Following that he was

Assistant Member of the Institute for Muscle

Disease in New York for one year. In 1961 Dr.

Bianchi became classified professionally as a

pharmacologist by becoming an Associate in the

Department of Pharmacology at the University of

Pennsylvania School of Medicine. There he

advanced to Professorship in 1969 and remained

until he came to Jefferson. The evolution of Dr.

Bianchi’s career from physiology to pharmacology

was the logical result of his investigations of the

effect of various drugs on the metabolism and

distribution of some of the important elements of

the body, notably calcium. His major field of

interest became classified and remained in

electrolyte pharmacology.

Throughout his career Dr. Bianchi has been

very active in the affairs of outside professional

organizations. He is a member of the American

Society for Pharmacology and Experimental

Therapeutics, the American Physiological Society,

the American Chemical Society, and the

International Society of Toxicology, to name

only a few. He served as President of both the

Philadelphia Physiological Society and the John

Morgan Society in the same year (1973-1974), and

of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Society for

Neuroscience (1979-1980). He gave much time

and valuable services as Field Editor for the

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental

Therapeutics ([970-1979) and as a member of the

Pharmacology Section of the National Board of

Medical Examiners (1981-1985).

After Dr. Bianchi became Chairman no

immediate changes in the general structure and

activities of the Department took place. He

enlarged the Department and filled vacancies

occasioned by the retirement of some faculty

members. The didactic schedules and subject

matter offered to the medical and graduate

students underwent only minor annual changes.

Research activities were augmented by the

addition of Dr. Bianchi’s specialty in electrolyte

pharmacology and the appointments of new staff

members for investigations in that and related

flelds. Through the following decade there was a

marked change in the faculty structure of the

Department. The [975 Jefferson catalogue, for

example, listed 15 faculty appointments in

Pharmacology, of which eight were on a primary

full-time basis with offices and laboratories in the

Department. In 1985 there were 36 faculty

appointments of which eight were on a primary

full-time basis. The large increase in the total

number of faculty resulted from adjunct

appointments from outside organizations and from

secondary appointments of faculty members of the

Clinical Departments at Jefferson. This expansion

reflected a broadening of interests and interactions

on both the scientific and clinical fronts in clinical

pharmacology and clinical toxicology.

A notable addition to the faculty of the

Department in 1978 was Dr. Hyman Menduke

as Professor of Pharmacology

(Biostatistics). After receiving his Ph.D. in

Economic Statistics at the University of

Pennsylvania, Menduke came to Jefferson in 1953

as Assistant Professor of Biostatistics with no

official Departmental affiliation until 1963, when

he was appointed Professor of Preventive

Medicine (Biostatistics). When Dr. Menduke first

came to Jefferson he gave a ten-hour course in

biostatistics to the second-year medical students in

time provided during their pharmacology course.

Through the years his offerings expanded to a

12-hour course for freshman medical students and

introductory and advanced courses for graduate

students. An early and valuable contribution was a

series of individual conferences with graduate

students on the statistical planning of their

research problems and the later analysis of their



The interests and activities of the Department in

research in toxicology have been emphasized.

Toxicology continued as an important part of the

research program after Dr. Bianchi became

Chairman in 1976, although under his direction

the major emphasis in research became redirected

toward the general areas of cell pharmacology and


In accord with its continuing research and

teaching activities in toxicology, the Department

starting in 1977 organized a series of annual

workshops on Industrial Toxicology sponsored by

the College of Graduate Studies. These were

four-day symposia on important toxicologic

problems in industry and the general environment,

presented by toxicologically involved Jefferson

faculty and by invited experts from other

universities, industry, and government.

In 1979 the Department was awarded a training

grant in Industrial and Environmental Toxicology

by the National Institute of Environmental Health

Sciences. The purpose of this award was to

provide postdoctoral training in toxicology for

individuals who had previously received their

Ph.D. degrees in other sciences. Ten M.S. degrees

were subsequently awarded in this program

through the years from 1981 to 1986.

On December 14, 1978, a full day’s workshop

with outside invited experts was held to discuss

the formation of a Toxicology Center and the

establishment of a Chair in Toxicology-Pathology

to broaden the base of research and training in

toxicology at Jefferson. It was envisioned that the

Center would be an administrative Division within

the Department of Pharmacology, with research

participation from other basic science departments

and the Department of Medicine. Although funds

accumulated in support of a Toxicology Center,

disagreements developed relating to the

administrative base of the Center.


A few articles from Dr. Bianchi showing the diversity of his research interests including calcium mobilization, neurotoxicology, and cellular metabolism and physiology.

Muscle fatigue and the role of transverse tubules.

Bianchi CP, Narayan S.

Science. 1982 Jan 15;215(4530):295-6. No abstract available.


Effect of adenosine on oxygen uptake and electrolyte content of frog sartorius muscle.

Prosdocimi M, Bianchi CP.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1981 Jul;218(1):92-6.


The effect of diazepam on tension and electrolyte distribution in frog muscle.

Degroof RC, Bianchi CP, Narayan S.

Eur J Pharmacol. 1980 Aug 29;66(2-3):193-9.


Steady state maintenance of electrolytes in the spinal cord of the frog.

Bianchi CP, Erulkar SD.

J Neurochem. 1979 Jun;32(6):1671-7. No abstract available.

An in-vitro model of anesthetic hypertonic hyperpyrexia, halothane–caffeine-induced muscle contractures: prevention of contracture by procainamide.

Strobel GE, Bianchi CP.

Anesthesiology. 1971 Nov;35(5):465-73. No abstract available.


The effects of psychoactive agents on calcium uptake by preparations of rat brain mitochondria.

Tjioe S, Haugaard N, Bianchi CP.

J Neurochem. 1971 Nov;18(11):2171-8. No abstract available.


The effect of veratridine on sodium-sensitive radiocalcium uptake in frog sartorius muscle.

Johnson P, Bianchi CP.

Eur J Pharmacol. 1971 Sep;16(1):90-9. No abstract available.


The function of ATP in Ca2+ uptake by rat brain mitochondria.

Tjioe S, Bianchi CP, Haugaard N.

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1970 Sep 1;216(2):270-3. No abstract availabl


The effects of pH gradients on the uptake and distribution of C14-procaine and lidocaine in intact and desheathed sciatic nerve trunks.

Strobel GE, Bianchi CP.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1970 Mar;172(1):18-32. No abstract available



More articles by CP Bianchi  can be found at:[auth]

The following is one of the seminal books Dr. Bianchi authored:


Role of Calcium Channels of the Sarcolemma and the Sarcoplasmic Reticulum in Skeletal Muscle Functions


Advances in General and Cellular Pharmacology (1976)

Toshio Narahashi; Carmine Paul Bianchi

The author of the Advances in General and Cellular Pharmacology is Toshio Narahashi; Carmine Paul Bianchi – very good writer. You can download this e-book absolutely for free. This ebook’s ISBN number is 9781461582007. if you were searching for for free download of kindle books, google books, free pdf books, pdf ebooks, e-books, pdf files or pdf ebooks just stay here for a while, download what you wanted for free and enjoy!

Advances in General and Cellular Pharmacology – Toshio Narahashi; Carmine Paul Bianchi – PDF Free Download Ebook also for Kindle


Other articles in this series published on this site include:

Heroes in Medical Research: Dr. Robert Ting, Ph.D. and Retrovirus in AIDS and Cancer

Heroes in Medical Research: Barnett Rosenberg and the Discovery of Cisplatin

Volume Two: Interviews with Scientific Leaders



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The Role of Tight Junction Proteins in Water and Electrolyte Transport


Reviewer and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP 


This article is Part II of a series that explores the physiology, genomics, and the proteomics of water and electrolytes in human and mammalian function in health and disease.  In this portion of curation, we examine the role of special proteins at the tight junctions of cells, including the claudins.  Consistent with the exploration of cation homeostasis, the last featured article is one of the altered handling of calcium (Ca2+) in CHF, and the closely regulated calcium efflux by the sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX).

The Role of Aquaporin and Tight Junction Proteins in the Regulation of Water Movement in Larval Zebrafish (Danio rerio).

Kwong RW, Kumai Y, Perry SF.
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
PLoS One. 2013 Aug 14;8(8):e70764.   eCollection 2013.

Teleost fish living in freshwater are challenged by passive water influx; however the molecular mechanisms regulating water influx in fish are not well understood. The potential involvement of aquaporins (AQP) and epithelial tight junction proteins in the regulation of transcellular and paracellular water movement was investigated in larval zebrafish (Danio rerio).

We observed that the half-time for saturation of water influx (K u) was 4.3±0.9 min, and reached equilibrium at approximately 30 min. These findings suggest a high turnover rate of water between the fish and the environment. Water influx was reduced by the putative AQP inhibitor phloretin (100 or 500 μM). Immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy revealed that AQP1a1 protein was expressed in cells on the yolk sac epithelium. A substantial number of these AQP1a1-positive cells were identified as ionocytes, either H(+)-ATPase-rich cells or Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase-rich cells. AQP1a1 appeared to be expressed predominantly on the basolateral membranes of ionocytes, suggesting its potential involvement in regulating ionocyte volume and/or water flux into the circulation.

Additionally, translational gene knockdown of AQP1a1 protein reduced water influx by approximately 30%, further indicating a role for AQP1a1 in facilitating transcellular water uptake. On the other hand, incubation with the Ca(2+)-chelator EDTA or knockdown of the epithelial tight junction protein claudin-b significantly increased water influx. These findings indicate that the epithelial tight junctions normally act to restrict paracellular water influx. Together, the results of the present study provide direct in vivo evidence that water movement can occur through transcellular routes (via AQP); the paracellular routes may become significant when the paracellular permeability is increased.

PMID:  23967101  PMCID: PMC3743848

The tight junction protein claudin-b regulates epithelial permeability and sodium handling in larval zebrafish, Danio rerio.

Kwong RW, Perry SF.
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. Apr 1, 2013; 304(7):R504-13.  Epub 2013 Jan 30.

The functional role of the tight junction protein claudin-b in larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) was investigated. We showed that claudin-b protein is expressed at epithelial cell-cell contacts on the skin. Translational gene knockdown of claudin-b protein expression caused developmental defects, including edema in the pericardial cavity and yolk sac.

Claudin-b morphants exhibited an increase in epithelial permeability to the paracellular marker polyethylene glycol (PEG-4000) and fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran (FD-4). Accumulation of FD-4 was confined mainly to the yolk sac and pericardial cavity in the claudin-b morphants, suggesting these regions became particularly leaky in the absence of claudin-b expression.

Additionally, Na(+) efflux was substantially increased in the claudin-b morphants, which contributed to a significant reduction in whole-body Na(+) levels. These results indicate that claudin-b normally acts as a paracellular barrier to Na(+). Nevertheless, the elevated loss of Na(+) in the morphants was compensated by an increase in Na(+) uptake.

Notably, we observed that the increased Na(+) uptake in the morphants was attenuated in the presence of the selective Na(+)/Cl(-)-cotransporter (NCC) inhibitor metolazone, or during exposure to Cl(-)-free water. These results suggested that the increased Na(+) uptake in the morphants was, at least in part, mediated by NCC. Furthermore, treatment with an H(+)-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin A1 was found to reduce Na(+) uptake in the morphants, suggesting that H(+)-ATPase activity was essential to provide a driving force for Na(+) uptake. Overall, the results suggest that claudin-b plays an important role in regulating epithelial permeability and Na(+) handling in zebrafish.
PMID: 23364531

Evidence for a role of tight junctions in regulating sodium permeability in zebrafish (Danio rerio) acclimated to ion-poor water.

Kwong RW, Kumai Y, Perry SF.
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
J Comp Physiol B. Feb 2013 ;183(2):203-13.  Epub 2012 Jul 29.

Freshwater teleosts are challenged by diffusive ion loss across permeable epithelia including gills and skin. Although the mechanisms regulating ion loss are poorly understood, a significant component is thought to involve paracellular efflux through pathways formed via tight junction proteins. The mammalian orthologue (claudin-4) of zebrafish (Danio rerio) tight junction protein, claudin-b, has been proposed to form a cation-selective barrier regulating the paracellular loss of Na(+).

The present study investigated the cellular localization and regulation of claudin-b, as well as its potential contribution to Na(+) homeostasis in adult zebrafish acclimated to ion-poor water. Using a green fluorescent protein-expressing line of transgenic zebrafish, we found that claudin-b was expressed along the lamellar epithelium as well as on the filament in the inter-lamellar regions. Co-localization of claudin-b and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase was observed, suggesting its interaction with mitochondrion-rich cells. Claudin-b also appeared to be associated with other cell types, including the pavement cells. In the kidney, claudin-b was expressed predominantly in the collecting tubules. In addition,

exposure to ion-poor water caused a significant increase in claudin-b abundance as well as a decrease in Na(+) efflux, suggesting a possible role for claudin-b in regulating paracellular Na(+) loss. Interestingly, the whole-body uptake of a paracellular permeability marker, polyethylene glycol-400, increased significantly after prolonged exposure to ion-poor water, indicating that an increase in epithelial permeability is not necessarily coupled with an increase in passive Na(+) loss. Overall, our study suggests that in ion-poor conditions, claudin-b may contribute to a selective reduction in passive Na(+) loss in zebrafish.
PMID: 22843140

Claudin-16 and claudin-19 function in the thick ascending limb.

Hou J, Goodenough DA.
Washington University School of Medicine, Div Renal Diseases, St Louis, Missouri
Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. Sep 2010; 19(5):483-8.

The thick ascending limb (TAL) of the loop of Henle is responsible for reabsorbing 25–40% of filtered Na+, 50–60% of filtered Mg2+ and 30–35% of filtered Ca2+. The dissociation of salt and water reabsorption in the TAL serves both to dilute the urine and to establish the corticomedullary osmolality gradient. Active transcellular salt reabsorption results in a lumen-positive transepithelial voltage that drives passive paracellular reabsorption of divalent cations. Claudins are the key components of the paracellular channel. The paracellular channels in the tight junction have properties of ion selectivity, pH dependence and anomalous mole fraction effects, similar to conventional transmembrane channels. Genetic mutations in claudin-16 and claudin-19 cause an inherited human renal disorder, familial hypomagnesemia with hypercalciuria and nephrocalcinosis (FHHNC).

In the TAL of Henle’s loop, the epithelial cells form a water-impermeable barrier, actively transport Na+ and Cl− via the transcellular route, and provide a paracellular pathway for the selective absorption of cations. Na+ K+ and Cl− enter the cell through the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter (NKCC2) in the luminal membrane. Na+ exits the cell through the Na+/K+-ATPase, in exchange for K+ entry. K+ is secreted into the lumen through the renal outer medullary potassium channel. Cl− leaves the cell through the basolateral Cl− channel, made up of two subunits, ClCKb and barttin. The polarized distribution of luminal K+ versus basolateral Cl− conductance generates a spontaneous voltage source (Vsp) of +7−8mV , depending on active transcellular NaCl reabsorption. With continuous NaCl reabsorption along the axis of the TAL segment, the luminal fluid is diluted to 30–60mmol/l  and a large NaCl transepithelial chemical gradient develops at the end of the TAL. Because the paracellular permeability of the TAL is cation-selective (with a PNa/PCl value between 2 and 4), the diffusion voltage (Vdi) is superimposed onto the active transport voltage (Vsp) and becomes the major source of the transepithelial voltage (Vte), which now increases up to +30mV.

Early in-vivo micropuncture studies have shown that approximately 50–60% of the filtered Mg2+ is reabsorbed in the TAL. The flux–voltage relationship indicates that Mg2+ is passively reabsorbed from the lumen to the peritubular space through the paracellular pathway in this segment, driven by a lumen positive Vte.  Vte is made of the sum of Vsp and Vdi. There are two prerequisites required for the paracellular Mg2+ reabsorption in the TAL: the lumen-positive Vte as the driving force and the paracellular permeability for the divalent cation Mg2+.

Claudin-16 and claudin-19 underlie familial hypercalciuric hypomagnesemia with nephrocalcinosis

Claudin-16 and claudin-19 play a major role in the regulation of magnesium reabsorption in the thick ascending limb (TAL). This review describes recent findings of the physiological function of claudin-16 and claudin-19 underlying normal transport function for magnesium reabsorption in the TAL. Mutations in the genes encoding the tight junction proteins claudin-16 and claudin-19 cause the inherited human renal disorder familial hypomagnesemia with hypercalciuria and nephrocalcinosis. FHHNC, OMIM #248250, is a rare autosomal recessive tubular disorder. As a consequence of excessive renal Mg2+ and Ca2+ wasting, patients develop the characteristic triad of hypomagnesemia, hypercalciuria and nephrocalcinosis. Recurrent urinary tract infections and polyuria/polydipsia are frequent initial symptoms. Other clinical symptoms include nephrolithiasis, abdominal pain, convulsions, muscular tetany, and failure to thrive. Additional laboratory findings include elevated serum parathyroid hormone levels before the onset of chronic renal failure, incomplete distal tubular acidosis, hypocitraturia, and hyperuricemia. In contrast to hypomagnesemia and secondary hypocalcemia (HSH, OMIM #602014), FHHNC is generally complicated by end-stage renal failure in early childhood or adolescence.

Simon et al. used the positional cloning strategy and identified claudin-16 (formerly known as paracellin-1), which is mutated in patients with FHHNC. Most mutations reported to date in claudin-16 are missense mutations clustering in the first extracellular loop composing the putative ion selectivity filter. Konrad et al. have found mutations in another tight junction gene encoding claudin-19 from new cohorts of FHHNC patients (OMIM #248190). The renal tubular phenotypes are indistinguishable between patients with mutations in claudin-16 and those with mutations in claudin-19. Although claudin-16 and claudin-19 underlie FHHNC and paracellular Mg2+ reabsorption in the TAL, the transient receptor potential channel melastatin 6 (TRPM6) regulates the apical entry of Mg2+ into the distal convoluted tubule epithelia. Mutations in TRPM6 cause the HSH syndrome.

These above data suggested the hypothesis that claudin-16 and/or claudin-19 forms a selective paracellular Mg2+/Ca2+ channel, which was tested in a number of in-vitro studies. Ikari et al. transfected low-resistance Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells with claudin-16 and reported that the Ca2+ flux in these cells was increased in the apical to basolateral direction, whereas the Ca2+ flux in the opposite direction remained unchanged. The Mg2+ flux was without any noticeable change. Kausalya et al.  transfected the high-resistance MDCK-C7 cell line and found that claudin-16 only moderately increased Mg2+ permeability without any directional preference. The effects of claudin-16 on Mg2+/Ca2+ permeation appeared so small (<50%) that the Mg2+/Ca2+ channel theory incompletely explains the dramatic effect of mutations in claudin-16 on Mg2+ and Ca2+ homoeostasis in FHHNC patients. However, , Hou et al.  transfected the anion-selective LLC-PK1 cell line with claudin-16 and found a large increase in Na+ permeability (PNa) accompanied by a moderately enhanced Mg2+ permeability (PMg). The permeability of claudin-16 to other alkali metal cations was found to be: K+ > Rb+ > Na+.  Yu et al. emphasized that these residue replacements can influence protein structures that may have impacts on ion permeability independent of amino acid charge.

The cation selectivity of the tight junction is vital for generating the lumen positive transepithelial potential in the TAL, which drives paracellular absorption of magnesium. Claudin-16 and claudin-19 require each other for assembly into tight junctions in the TAL. Heteromeric claudin-16 and claudin-19 interaction forms a cation selective tight junction paracellular channel. Loss of either claudin-16 or claudin-19 in the mouse kidney abolishes the cation selectivity for the TAL paracellular pathway, leading to excessive renal wasting of magnesium.

Claudins interact with each other both intracellularly and intercellularly: they copolymerize linearly within the plasma membrane of the cell, together with the integral protein occludin, to form the classical intramembrane fibrils or strands visible in freeze-fracture replicas. These intramembrane interactions (side-to-side) can involve one claudin protein (homomeric or homopolymeric) or different claudins (heteromeric or heteropolymeric). In the formation of the intercellular junction, claudins may interact head-to-head with claudins in an adjacent cell, generating both homotypic and heterotypic claudin–claudin interactions. Using the split-ubiquitin yeast 2-hybrid assay, Hou et al. found strong claudin-16 and claudin-19 heteromeric interaction. The point mutations in claudin-16 (L145P, L151F, G191R, A209T, and F232C) or claudin-19 (L90P and G123R) that are known to cause human FHHNC disrupted the claudin-16 and claudin-19 heteromeric interaction. In mammalian cells such as the human embryonic kidney 293 cells, claudin-16 can be coimmunoprecipitated with claudin-19. Freeze-fracture replicas revealed the assembly of tight junction strands in L cells coexpressing claudin-16 and claudin-19, supporting their heteromeric interaction.

Coexpression of claudin-16 and claudin-19 in LLC-PK1 cells resulted in a dramatic upregulation of PNa and down-regulation of PCl, generating a highly cation-selective paracellular pathway. Certain FHHNC mutations in claudin-16 (L145P, L151F, G191R, A209T, and F232C) or claudin-19 (L90P and G123R) that disrupted their heteromeric interaction abolished this physiological change. As claudin-16 colocalizes with claudin-19 in the TAL epithelia of the kidney, claudin-16 and claudin-19 association through heteromeric interactions confers cation selectivity to the tight junction in the TAL. Human FHHNC mutations in claudin-16 or claudin-19 that abolish the cation selectivity diminish the lumen-positive Vdi as the driving force for Mg2+ and Ca2+ reabsorption, readily explaining the devastating phenotypes in FHHNC patients.  Hou et al. generated claudin-16 deficient mouse models using lentiviral transgenesis of siRNA to knock down claudin-16 expression by more than 99% in mouse kidneys. Claudin-16 knockdown mice show significantly reduced plasma Mg2+ levels and excessive urinary excretions (approximately four-fold) of Mg2+ and Ca2+. Calcium deposits are observed in the basement membranes of the medullary tubules and the interstitium in the kidney of claudin-16 knockdown mice. These phenotypes of claudin-16 knockdown mice recapitulate the symptoms in human FHHNC patients.

The paracellular reabsorption of Mg2+ and Ca2+ is driven by a lumen-positive Vte made up of two components: Vsp and Vdi. When isolated TAL segments were perfused ex vivo with symmetrical NaCl solutions, there was no difference in Vsp between claudin-16 knockdown and wild-type mice, indicating Vsp was normal in claudin-16 knockdown. Blocking the NKCC2 channel with furosemide (thus dissipating VSP), the cation selectivity (PNa/PCl) was significantly reduced from3.1 ± 0.3 in wild type to 1.5 ± 0.1 in claudin-16 knockdown, resulting in the loss of Vdi. When perfused with a NaCl gradient of 145mmol/l (bath) versus 30mmol/l (lumen), the resulting Vdi was +18mV in wild type, but only +6.6mV in claudin-16 knockdown. Thus, the reduction in Vdi accounted for a substantive loss of the driving force for Mg2+ and Ca2+ reabsorption.

Renal handling of Na+ in claudin-16 knockdown mice is more complex. In the early TAL segment, the transcellular and paracellular pathways form a current loop in which the currents traversing the two pathways are of equal size but opposite direction. Net luminal K+ secretion and basolateral Cl− absorption polarize the TAL epithelium and generate Vsp. As the paracellular pathway is cation selective (PNa/PCl=2–4 , the majority of the current driven by Vsp through the paracellular pathway is carried by Na+ moving from the lumen to the interstitium. Hebert et al. estimated that, for each Na+ absorbed through the trans-cellular pathway, one Na+ is absorbed through the paracellular pathway. With the loss of claudin-16 and the concomitant loss of paracellular cation selectivity, Na+ absorption through the paracellular pathway is reduced.  In the late TAL segment, dilution of NaCl in the luminal space creates an increasing chemical transepithelial gradient; back diffusion of Na+ through the cation-selective tight junction generates a lumen-positive Vdi across the epithelium. The paracellular absorption of Na+ will be diminished when Vdi equals Vsp, and reversed when Vdi exceeds Vsp. As an equilibrium potential, Vdi blocks further Na+ backleak into the lumen. Without claudin-16, Vdi will be markedly reduced well below normal, providing a driving force for substantial Na+ secretion. Indeed, claudin-16 knockdown mice had increased fractional excretion of Na+ (FENa) and developed hypotension and secondary hyperaldosteronism. The observed Na+ and volume loss are consistent with human FHHNC phenotypes. For example, polyuria and polydipsia are the most frequently reported symptoms from FHHNC patients.

Epithelial paracellular channels are increasingly understood to be formed from claudin oligomeric complexes. In the mouse TAL, claudin-16 and claudin-19 cooperate to form cation-selective paracellular channels required for normal levels of magnesium reabsorption. Different subsets of the claudin family of tight junction proteins are found distributed throughout the nephron, and understanding their roles in paracellular ion transport will be fundamental to understanding renal ion homeostasis.

Keywords: claudin; hypomagnesemia; thick ascending limb; tight junction; transepithelial voltage.     PMID: 20616717  PMCID: PMC3378375

Function and regulation of claudins in the thick ascending limb of Henle.

Günzel D, Yu AS.
Depart Clin Physiol, Charité, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany.
Pflugers Arch. May 2009; 458(1):77-88.  Epub 2008 Sep 16.

The thick ascending limb (TAL) of Henle mediates transcellular reabsorption of NaCl while generating a lumen-positive voltage that drives passive paracellular reabsorption of divalent cations. Disturbance of paracellular reabsorption leads to Ca(2+) and Mg(2+) wasting in patients with the rare inherited disorder of familial hypercalciuric hypomagnesemia with nephrocalcinosis (FHHNC). Recent work has shown that the claudin family of tight junction proteins form paracellular pores and determine the ion selectivity of paracellular permeability. Importantly, FHHNC has been found to be caused by mutations in two of these genes, claudin-16 and claudin-19, and mice with knockdown of claudin-16 reproduce many of the features of FHHNC. Here, we review the physiology of TAL ion transport, present the current view of the role and mechanism of claudins in determining paracellular permeability, and discuss the possible pathogenic mechanisms responsible for FHHNC.

Tight junctions form the paracellular barrier in epithelia. Claudins are ~22 kDa proteins that were first identified by Mikio Furuse in the laboratory of the late Shoichiro Tsukita as proteins that copurified in a tight junction fraction from the chicken liver [23]. The observation that they were transmembrane proteins with 4 predicted membrane domains and 2 extracellular domains raised early on the possibility that they could play a key role in intercellular adhesion and formation of the paracellular barrier. In 1999, Richard Lifton’s group identified mutations in a novel gene, which they called paracellin, as the cause of familial hypercalciuric hypomagnesemia, an inherited disorder believed to be due to failure of paracellular reabsorption of divalent cations in the thick ascending limb of the renal tubule. Paracellin turned out to be a claudin family member (claudin-16). This suggested that claudins in general might be directly involved in regulating paracellular transport in all epithelia. This is now supported by numerous studies demonstrating that overexpressing or ablating expression of various claudin isoforms in cultured cell lines or in mice affects both the degree of paracellular permeability and its selectivity (vide infra). Furthermore, in mammals alone there are ~24 claudin genes and each exhibits a distinct tissue-specific, pattern of expression. Thus, the specific claudin isoform(s) expressed in each tissue might explain its paracellular permeability properties.

Each nephron segment expresses a unique set of multiple claudin isoforms, and each isoform is expressed in multiple segments, thus making a complicated picture which even varies between different species. The role of combinations of claudins in determining paracellular permeability properties has hardly been studied yet. In mouse, rabbit and cattle, the thick ascending limb of Henle’s loop is thought to express claudins 3, 10, 11, 16  in adulthood, and, at least in mouse, additionally claudin-6 during development. In addition, claudin-4 has been found in cattle and claudin-8 in rabbit. To date, the distribution of Claudin-19 has been investigated in mouse, rat, and man where its presence in the TAL was demonstrated.

The thick ascending limb (TAL) of Henle’s loop, working as “diluting segment” of the nephron, is characterized by two major properties: high transepithelial, resorptive transport of electrolytes and low permeability to water. Major players to achieve electrolyte transport are the apical Na+-K+-2Cl−symporter (NKCC2), the apical K+ channel ROMK, the basolateral Cl− channel (CLC-Kb) together with its subunit barttin and the basolateral Na+/K+-ATPase . The combined actions of these transport systems have been extensively reviewed and are therefore only briefly summarized here. Na+ and Cl− are resorbed by entering the cells apically through NKCC2 and leaving the cells basolaterally through the Na+/K+-ATPase and CLC-Kb, respectively. In contrast, K+ is either recycled across the apical membrane as it is entering through NKCC2 and leaving through ROMK, or even secreted, as it is also entering the cells basolaterally through the Na+/K+-ATPase. Taking these ion movements together, there is a net movement of positive charge from the basolateral to the apical side of the epithelium, giving rise to a lumen positive voltage (3 – 9 mV [11]; about 5 – 7 mV [30,31]; 7 – 8 mV [57]). Over the length of the TAL, luminal NaCl concentration decreases gradually to concentrations of 30 – 60 mM at the transition to the distal tubule, depending on the flow rate within the tubule (low flow rates resulting in low concentrations).

To keep up such a high gradient, the TAL epithelium has to be tight to water and various studies summarized by Burg and Good report water permeability values from 28 µm/s down to values indistinguishable from zero. Tight junctions of the TAL are, however, highly permeable to cations with PNa being about 2 – 2.7 fold, 2.5 fold or even up to 6 fold that of PCl. Amongst the monovalent cations, a permeability sequence of PK > PNa > PRb = PLi > PCs > Porganic cation was observed which is similar to Eisenman sequence VIII or IX, indicating a strong interaction between the permeating ion and the paracellular pore that enables at least partial removal of the hydration shell (see below). As reviewed by Burg and Good, the transepithelial sodium and chloride permeabilities, estimated from radioisotope fluxes, are high (in the range of 10 – 63·10−6 cm/s) and the transepithelial electrical resistance is correspondingly low (21 – 25 W cm2 ; 30 – 40 W cm2 ; 11 – 34 W cm2 . Blocking active transport by the application of furosemide or ouabain increases transepithelial resistance only slightly, indicating that the low values are primarily due to a very high paracellular permeability. Due to these properties of TAL epithelial cells, Na+ ions leak back into the lumen of the tubule, creating a diffusion (dilution) potential that adds another 10 – 15 mV to the lumen positive potential, so that considerable potential differences (25 mV ; 30 mV; cTAL 23 mV, mTAL 17 mV ) may be reached at very slow flow rates.

Considerable proportions of the initially filtrated Mg2+ (50 – 60%; 50 – 70%; 65 – 75%) and Ca2+ (20%; 30 – 35% are resorbed in the TAL. The transepithelial potential is considered to provide the driving force for the predominantly paracellular resorption of Mg2+ and Ca2+ as in many studies, transport of both divalent ions in the TAL has been found to be strictly voltage dependent (resorbtive at lumen positive potentials, zero at 0 mV and secretory at lumen negative potentials) and permeability considerable (PCa 7.7·10−6 cm/s, i.e. approximately 25% of PNa). There is however, some conflicting evidence, e.g. by Suki et al. and Friedman. Both studies used cTAL (cortical TAL) and found that decreasing the transepithelial potential by applying furosemide did either not alter the unidirectional lumen to bath Ca2+ flux (rabbit) or left a substantial net Ca2+ resorption (mouse). Similarly, Rocha et al. found that bath application of ouabain almost abolished the transepithelial potential, but hardly affected net Ca2+ resorption and conclude that (a) all segments of Henle’s loop are relatively impermeable to calcium and (b) net calcium resorption occurs in the thick ascending limb which cannot be explained by passive mechanisms.  Mandon et al. conclude that both Mg2+ and Ca2+ are transported in the cTAL but not in the mTAL (medullary TAL) of rat and mouse, although transepithelial potential differences were similar in both segments, and even if the transepithelial potential was experimentally elevated to values above 20 mV. Wittner et al. even found evidence that in mouse mTAL the passive permeability to divalent cations is very low and that Ca2+ and Mg2+ can be secreted into the luminal fluid under conditions which elicit large lumen-positive transepithelial potential differences. They conclude that this Ca2+ and Mg2+ transport is most probably of cellular origin. In contrast, in rabbit, both ions are transported along the whole length of the TAL.

Both, Mg2+ and Ca2+ resorption are modulated through the action of the basolateral Ca (and Mg) sensing receptor (CaSR) which is found along the entire nephron but especially in the loop of Henle, distal convoluted tubule (DCT) and the inner medullary collecting duct. Different modes of action on Ca2+ and Mg2+ homeostasis exist, such as an indirect action through the modulation of PTH secretion or direct effects on the cells expressing CaSR. In the TAL the latter model is based on the assumptions depicted above, i.e. that Mg2+ and Ca2+ are resorbed paracellularly, driven by the lumen positive potential, so that a reduction in NaCl resorption causes a reduction in driving force for Mg2+ and Ca2+ resorption. As reviewed by Hebert and Ward, CaSR is activated through an increase in basolateral Ca2+ and/or Mg2+ concentration which triggers an increase in the intracellular Ca2+ concentration. This reduces the activity of the adenylate cyclase which, in turn, inhibits transcellular transport of Na+ and Cl−. In addition, the increase in intracellular Ca2+ activates phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and thus increases the intracellular concentration of arachidonic acid and its derivative, 20-HETE. 20-HETE inhibits NKCC2, ROMK and the Na+/K+-ATPase and by this Mg2+ and Ca2+ resorption. In keeping with this hypothesis, mutations in CaSR affect Ca/Mg resorption. Inactivating mutations cause hypercalcemia, hypocalciuria, hypomagnesiuria and, in some patients hypermagnesemia. Conversely, activating mutations (gain of function mutations) lead to hypocalcemia, hypercalciuria, hypermagnesiuria and in up to 50% of the patients mild hypomagnesemia.

Bartter syndrome type I (mutations in NKCC2), and type II (mutations in ROMK) lead to hypercalciuria and thus cause nephrocalcinosis, but no hypomagnesemia is observed. Reports on hypermagnesiuria are conflicting: while Kleta and Bockenhauer link it to nephrocalcinosis seen in these patients, Rodriguez-Soriano states that patients with neonatal Bartter syndrome (i.e. type I or II) show a lack of hypermagnesiuria that may be explained by compensation in the DCT. Hypomagnesemia is occationally present in Bartter type III (CLC-Kb). However, here it is believed to be mainly due to effects on DCT, where CLC-Kb shows highest expression. Patients with Bartter syndrome IV (CLC-Kbsubunit barttin) may or may not present nephrocalcinosis, while Mg2+ homeostasis appears undisturbed. Interestingly, the largest effects on Mg2+-homeostasis are observed in Gitelman syndrome, a defect in the Na+/Cl− symport (NCC) predominantly found in the DCT, where Mg2+ is transported along the transcellular route. Affected patients suffer from hypomagnesemia, hypermagnesuria and hypocalciuria. The effect on Mg2+ in Gitelman syndrome is still poorly understood and possibly due to a concomitant down-regulation of TRPM6, the apical Mg2+ uptake channel in DCT.

More than 30 different claudin-16 mutations have now been reported in families with FHHNC. Because of the large number of unique mutations, it has not been possible to identify any clear qualitative correlation between the phenotype and individual mutations, although certain mutations are associated with greater severity of disease. In 2006, a second locus was identified, CLDN19, which encodes claudin-19. In the initial report, the phenotype appeared similar to that due to claudin-16 mutations, with the exception that there was a high prevalence of ocular abnormalities, including macular colobomata, nystagmus and myopia. Claudin-19 is normally expressed at high levels in the retina, but why it causes these ocular disorders is unknown.

In vitro studies of claudin function comprise inducible or non-inducible transfection of various cells lines with cDNA for claudins that are not endogenously expressed by the cell line used. Alternatively, cells can be transfected with siRNA directed against an endogenous claudin. In both cases, cells are then grown to confluence on permeable filter supports that allow measurement of transepithelial permeabilities. Before the results of permeability studies can be interpreted, however, several parameters have to be controlled.

First, special care has to be taken to make sure that the exogenous claudin is correctly inserted into the tight junction. This can be achieved e.g. by confocal laser scanning microscopy, colocalizing the claudin of interest  with a tight junction marker protein such as occludin.

Second, it has to be ensured that endogenous claudin expression remains unaffected, as permeability changes always result from the combined effects of alterations in endogenous and exogenous claudins.

Third, it has to be kept in mind that, typically, epithelia express several different claudins that act together to produce tissue specific permeability properties. Thus, ideally, a cell line should be chosen that provides a claudin background resembling that usually experienced by the claudin investigated. The latter two points may be the reason for contradicting results obtained in permeability studies expressing a specific claudin in different cell lines.

Studies of paracellular permeabilities can be divided into two groups, those employing electrophysiological measurements (e.g. determination of diffusion potentials), and those measuring ion or solute flux, using either radioactive isotopes or various analytical methods to determine the amount transported.

Although transepithelial conductances depend on paracellular permeabilities of the predominant ions in the bath solution, conductance changes alone cannot be used to predict ion permeabilities.

Firstly, conductances always depend on both ion and counter-ion, not on one ion species alone.

Secondly, transepithelial conductances are the sum of the conductances of the transcellular and paracellular pathways.

Thus, they only reflect paracellular permeability, if paracellular conductance dominates transepithelial conductance and if transcellular conductance remains constant throughout the experiment. This, however, is often not the case, as concentration changes of the ions investigated may affect transcellular conductance, e.g. by activating ion transporters or by inhibiting ion channels. Thirdly, the specific conductance of each solution employed may differ and has therefore to be assessed and taken into account. Thus, comparison of results from diffusion potential measurements or flux studies and conductance measurements may even yield contradicting results. For the same reasons, other methods based on pure conductance/resistance measurements, including the more sophisticated conductance scanning method or one-path impedance spectroscopy are not ion specific and do not allow the measurement of paracellular permeabilities to single ions.

In contrast to electrophysiological measurements, flux measurements are not limited to ions but can also be extended to uncharged molecules.  Flux measurements per se do not distinguish between transcellular or paracellular transport. Therefore, to estimate paracellular permeabilities, inhibition or at least estimation of the transcellular flux is necessary. Assuming that transcellular flux for energetic reasons is not easily reversible while paracellular flux is passive and thus generally assumed to be symmetric, the transcellular proportion is often estimated by calculating the difference between apical to basolateral and basolateral to apical fluxes. All flux measurements are very sensitive to the development of diffusion zones (“unstirred layers”) near the cells. These layers are depleted/enriched in the compound transported and thus alter the driving forces acting on these compounds, if bath solutions are not continually circulated. If ionic fluxes are investigated, transepithelial potentials may develop that diminish or completely inhibit the flux investigated.

All the techniques described above have been employed to investigate the function of claudin-16 and -19, especially with respect to their ability to increase paracellular permeability to divalent cations. The hypothesis, that claudin-16 (then called paracellin-1) may be a paracellular Mg2+ and Ca2+ pore was originally expressed by Simon et al. It was based on the findings that mutations in claudin-16 were the cause of the severe disturbance in Mg2+ and Ca2+ homeostasis in FHHNC patients together with the observations that claudin-16 is a tight junction protein located in the TAL, i.e. the nephron segment responsible for bulk Mg2+ resoption along the paracellular pathway. When, recently, it was found that claudin-19 mutations were underlying hitherto unexplained cases of FHHNC and that claudin-19 co-localized with claudin-16, the hypothesis was extended to claudin-19.

  1. Cole DEC, Quamme GA. Inherited disorders of renal magnesium handling. J Am Soc Nephrol 2000;11:1937–1947. [PubMed: 11004227]
  2. de Rouffignac C, Quamme G. Renal magnesium handling and its hormonal control. Physiol Rev 1994;74:305–322. [PubMed: 8171116]  
  3. Meij IC, van den Heuvel LP, Knoers NV. Genetic disorders of magnesium homeostasis. BioMetals 2002;15:297–307. [PubMed: 12206395]
  4. Satoh J, Romero MF. Mg2+ transport in the kidney. BioMetals 2002;15:285–295. [PubMed: 12206394]  
  5. Schlingmann KP, Konrad M, Seyberth HW. Genetics of hereditary disorders of magnesium homeostasis. Pediatr Nephrol 2004;19:13–25. [PubMed: 14634861]  
  6. Simon DB, Lu Y, Choate KA, et al. Paracellin-1, a renal tight junction protein required for paracellular Mg2+ resorption. Science 1999;285:103–106. [PubMed: 10390358]

PMID: 18795318  PMCID:  PMC2666100

Deletion of claudin-10 (Cldn10) in the thick ascending limb impairs paracellular sodium permeability and leads to hypermagnesemia and nephrocalcinosis.

Breiderhoff T, Himmerkus N, Stuiver M, Mutig K, Will C, Meij IC et al.
Max Delbrück Center for Molec Med, Berlin, Germany.

Erratum in Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2012 Sep 11;109(37):15072.
Proc Natl Acad Sci. Aug 28, 2012; 109(35):14241-6. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

In the kidney, tight junction proteins contribute to segment specific selectivity and permeability of paracellular ion transport. In the thick ascending limb (TAL) of Henle’s loop, chloride is reabsorbed transcellularly, whereas sodium reabsorption takes transcellular and paracellular routes. TAL salt transport maintains the concentrating ability of the kidney and generates a transepithelial voltage that drives the reabsorption of calcium and magnesium. Thus, functionality of TAL ion transport depends strongly on the properties of the paracellular pathway. To elucidate the role of the tight junction protein claudin-10 in TAL function, we generated mice with a deletion of Cldn10 in this segment. We show that claudin-10 determines paracellular sodium permeability, and that its loss leads to hypermagnesemia and nephrocalcinosis. In isolated perfused TAL tubules of claudin-10-deficient mice, paracellular permeability of sodium is decreased, and the relative permeability of calcium and magnesium is increased. Moreover, furosemide-inhibitable transepithelial voltage is increased, leading to a shift from paracellular sodium transport to paracellular hyperabsorption of calcium and magnesium. These data identify claudin-10 as a key factor in control of cation selectivity and transport in the TAL, and deficiency in this pathway as a cause of nephrocalcinosis.

Whereas regulation of transporters and channels involved in trans-cellular ion transport has been characterized in much detail, the functional and molecular determinants of paracellular ion trans­port in the kidney remain incompletely understood. In the thick ascending limb (TAL) of Henle’s loop, both trans-cellular and paracellular ion transport pathways contribute to reabsorption of Na+, Cl, Mg2+, and Ca2+. Na+ and Clare reabsorbed mostly transcellularly by the concerted action of chan­nels and transporters. Mutations in five of the genes involved lead to Bartter syndrome, a disorder characterized by salt wasting and polyuria. Whereas Clis transported exclusively transcellularly, 50% of the Na+ load, as well as Ca2+ and Mg2+, are reabsorbed via paracellular pathways. In the TAL, this paracellular route is highly cation-selective. The paracellular passage is largely controlled by the tight junction (TJ), a supramolecular structure of membrane-spanning proteins, their intracellular adapters, and scaffolding proteins. Claudins, a family comprising 27 members, are the main components of the TJ defining the permeability properties. They interact via their extracellular loops with corre­sponding claudins of the neighboring cell to allow or restrict pas­sage of specific solutes (5, 6). In the kidney, their expression pattern is closely related to the corresponding segment-specific solute reabsorption profile. Several claudins are expressed in the TAL, including claudin-16, -19, -10, -3, and -18 The importance of claudin-16 and -19 in this tissue is documented by mutations in CLDN16 and CLDN19, which cause familial hypomagnesemia, hypercalciuria, and nephrocalcinosis, an autosomal recessive dis­order that leads to end-stage renal disease. The relevance of CLDN16 for paracellular reabsorption of Mg2+ and Ca2+ was confirmed in mouse models with targeted gene disruption. In addition, claudin-14, expressed in the TAL of mice on a high-calcium diet, was identified as negative regulator of claudin-16 function (15), and sequence variants in CLDN14 have been asso­ciated with human kidney stone disease. The functional significance of claudin-10, which is also ex­pressed in the TAL, remains unclear. This TJ protein is expressed in two isoforms, claudin-10a and claudin-10b, which differ in their first extracellular loop. In cultured epithelial cells, heter-ologous expression of claudin-10a increases paracellular anion transport, whereas claudin-10b expression increases paracellular cation transport. Both isoforms are expressed differentially along the nephron, with claudin-10a found predominantly in cortical segments, whereas claudin-10b is enriched in the medullary region.  In the present study we generated a mouse model with a TAL-specific Cldn10 gene defect to query the role of this protein in renal paracellular in transport in vivo. We found that claudin-10 is crucial to paracellular Na+ handling in the TAL, and that its absence leads to a shift from paracellular sodium transport to paracellular hyperreabsorption of Ca2+ and Mg2+.

Analysis of claudin-10 expression in the kidney. (A) Western blot analysis of kidney membrane extracts from control (ctr) and cKO mice. A dramatic reduction in claudin-10 protein can be seen in kidneys of cKO mice. Levels of the TJ marker occludin are unchanged. (B) Gene expression analysis of Cldn10 variants on cDNA from isolated segments of the nephron. (C) Immunohistological detection of claudin-10 and markers for PCT (NHE3) and TAL (NKCC2) on sections from control mice (ctr) and cKO mice demonstrates no difference in the signal for claudin-10 in the PCT between WT and cKO. Claudin-10 is expressed in TAL tubules positive for NKCC2. No specific clau-din-10 staining is evident in the TAL of cKO mice. Claudin-10 is detected in TJs positive for ZO-1. This signal is absent in cKO mice, whereas ZO-1 staining is unchanged. (Scale bar: 25 μm.)

In control animals, claudin-10 is located mainly in the TAL, as documented by coimmunostaining with the Na+K+2Clcotrans-porter (NKCC2). In this segment, a large portion of the claudin-10 immunofluorescence signal is located outside of the TJ; however, claudin-10 is present in the TJ, as demonstrated by colocalization with the TJ protein ZO-1. PCTs positive for the sodium-proton exchanger NHE-3 showed a considerably weaker signal restricted to the TJ area. Claudin-10 immunoreactivity was virtually absent in NKCC2-positive tubules of cKO mice, in line with the activity of Cre recombinase in this cell type. The immu-noreactivity of claudin-10 in PCTs of cKOs remained unchanged, however. ZO-1 staining in TAL sections of cKOs was unchanged compared with controls, indicating no unspecific effect on TJ structures. The TJ localization of claudin-16 and claudin-19 in medullary rays was similar in cKOs and controls.   To investigate the phenotypic consequences of renal claudin-10 deficiency, we per­formed a histological examination of the kidneys of 10-wk-old cKO mice and their respective controls. Kidneys from cKO mice contained extensive medullary calcium deposits, as revealed by von Kossa and alizarin red S staining. The deposits were found along the outer stripe of the outer medulla. The detection of extensive calcification suggests alterations in renal ion homeostasis in mice deficient for claudin-10.  Serum Na+ and Cllevels and their renal FE excretion rates were not different be­tween genotypes. In addition, serum creatinine and glomerular filtration rate were not altered compared with controls. Taken together, these findings indicate that calcium deposition does not nonpecifically affect overall glomerular or tubular function.

Fig 4. Gene expression analysis of renal claudins (A) and representative renal ion transporters and channels (B) by real-time PCR. Cldn10 deficiency results in differential gene expression of several genes. Values from cKO animals are shown relative to control mice (mean ± SEM). Wnk1, Wnk1-KS, Kcnj1, and Trpm6, n = 5/4; all other genes, n = 10/10. *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001.    The thiazide-sensitive NaCl cotransporter NCC (Slc12a3), the protein involved in NaCl absorption in the DCT, and the respective inhibitory, kidney-specific kinase-defective KS-WNK1 were expressed at lower levels in the cKO mice. Taken together, these data suggest specific compensatory alterations in components of both paracellular and transcellular renal ion transport mechanisms in mice deficient in claudin-10 in the TAL.

Urinalysis demonstrated that the inhibition of TAL tubular transport by furosemide resulted in a completely differ­ent pattern of tubular Ca2+ and Mg2+ handling that identifies the TAL as the major nephron segment affected by claudin-10 deficiency.  Interestingly, the different effects on plasma Mg2+ and Ca2+ levels reflect the different major reabsorption sites of these ions. Some 60% of the filtered Mg2+ is reabsorbed in the TAL, compared with only 20% of the filtered Ca2+ load (20). Ca2+ hyperreabsorption in TAL seems to be balanced by reduced (proximal and) distal tubular Ca2+ transport. The hyperreabsorption of divalent cations in mice deficient in claudin-10 is in opposition to the loss of divalent cations seen in mouse models of claudin-16 deficiency and in human patients with mutation in CLDN16 or CLDN19. This finding indicates that claudins in the TAL have functions that differentially affect paracellular cation transport in this segment. Mice deficient for claudin-10b in the TAL exhibit decreased permeability for Na+ and increased permeability for Ca2+ and Mg2+, whereas in mice with claudin-16 or claudin-19 deficiency, decreased sodium per­meability in the TAL is paralleled by decreased reabsorption of Ca2+ and Mg2+.

1. Greger R (1981) Cation selectivity of the isolated perfused cortical thick ascending limb of Henle’s loop of rabbit kidney. Pflugers Arch 390:30–37.
2. Furuse M (2010) Molecular basis of the core structure of tight junctions. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 2:a002907.
3. Konrad M, et al. (2006) Mutations in the tight-junction gene claudin 19 (CLDN19) are associated with renal magnesium wasting, renal failure, and severe ocular in­volvement. Am J Hum Genet 79:949–957.
4.  Simon DB, et al. (1999) Paracellin-1, a renal tight junction protein required for par-acellular Mg2+ resorption. Science 285:103–106.
5. Hou J, et al. (2007) Transgenic RNAi depletion of claudin-16 and the renal handling of magnesium. J Biol Chem 282:17114–17122.
6. Himmerkus N, et al. (2008) Salt and acid-base metabolism in claudin-16 knockdown mice: Impact for the pathophysiology of FHHNC patients. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 295:F1641–F1647.

 PMID: 22891322  PMCID: PMC3435183

Paracellin-1 is critical for magnesium and calcium reabsorption in the human thick ascending limb of Henle.

Blanchard A, Jeunemaitre X, Coudol P, Dechaux M, Froissart M, et al.
Université Pierre et Marie Curie, INSERM and Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire, Hôpital Universitaire Européen Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.
Kidney Int. 2001 Jun; 59(6):2206-15.

A new protein, named paracellin 1 (PCLN-1), expressed in human thick ascending limb (TAL) tight junctions, possibly plays a critical role in the control of magnesium and calcium reabsorption, since mutations of PCLN-1 are present in the hypomagnesemia hypercalciuria syndrome (HHS).
No functional experiments have demonstrated that TAL magnesium and calcium reabsorption were actually impaired in patients with HHS.
Genetic studies were performed in the kindred of two unrelated patients with HHS.

We found two yet undescribed mutations of PCLN-1 (Gly 162 Val, Ala 139 Val). In patients with HHS, renal magnesium and calcium reabsorptions were impaired as expected; NaCl renal conservation during NaCl deprivation and NaCl tubular reabsorption in diluting segment were intact. Furosemide infusion in CS markedly increased NaCl, Mg, and Ca urinary excretion rates. In HHS patients, furosemide similarly increased NaCl excretion, but failed to increase Mg and Ca excretion. Acute MgCl(2) infusion in CS and ERH patient provoked a dramatic increase in urinary calcium excretion without change in NaCl excretion. When combined with MgCl(2) infusion, furosemide infusion remained able to induce normal natriuretic response, but was unable to increase urinary magnesium and calcium excretion further. In HHS patients, calciuric response to MgCl(2) infusion was blunted.

In patients with HHS, levels of circulating renin and aldosterone were normal, suggesting normal blood and extracellular volume. In addition, HHS patient 2 was normally able to lower her sodium excretion below 10 mmol/day during sodium deprivation, and in HHS pa­tient 1, sodium reabsorption in the diluting segment was normal as assessed by hypotonic saline infusion.  After oral NH4Cl load: Minimal urinary pH was 5.8 (normal value <5.4), and maximal net acid excretion reached only 24 pmol/min (normal value >80). Both subjects had hypocitraturia. The latter data suggested in the two probands distal defect of urinary acidification, probably related to nephrocalcinosis.

Because the filtered load of calcium but not the filtered load of magnesium remains unchanged during acute magnesium infusion in humans, the increase in calcium excretion is a better index of the inhibitory effect of peritubular magnesium on renal tubular divalent cation transport.  Urinary sodium excretion remained almost constant in both subjects during MgCl2 infusion (data not shown). Accordingly, the FECa/FENa ratio, which should remain constant if sodium reabsorption was primarily affected, increased in the CS and EHR patient.  Before the furosemide infusion, serum ultrafilterable (UF) Ca concentrations were similar in patients with HHS and the controls. However, Ca excretion markedly differed and was approximately five times higher in HHS patients than in controls.

In the two patients with homozygous mutations in the PCLN-1 gene, an impairment in renal tubular magne­sium and calcium reabsorption with normal NaCl recla­recla­mation was demonstrated. Accordingly, comparative studies performed under baseline condition in one pa­tient with ERH and in HHS patients demonstrated that the magnesium and calcium excretion in HHS patients were inappropriately high when compared with serum magnesium and calcium concentrations. However, renal NaCl reabsorption in HHS patients was intact. There was no clinical evidence of extracellular fluid volume  contraction. Furthermore, basal circulating renin and aldosterone concentrations were normal and adapted to the normal Na intake. Finally, abnormal NaCl reclama­tion in the diluting segment of the nephron was excluded in one patient, while the other was able to adapt normally to a sodium deprived diet.

This study is the first to our knowledge to demonstrate that homozygous mutations of PCLN-1 result in a selective defect in paracellular Mg and Ca reabsorption in the TAL, with intact NaCl reabsorption ability at this site. In addition, the study supports a selective physiological effect of basolateral Mg(2+) and Ca(2+) concentration on TAL divalent cation paracellular permeability, that is, PCLN-1 activity.   PMID: 11380823

Development of a Novel Sodium-Hydrogen Exchanger Inhibitor for Heart Failure

Elizabeth Juneman*, Reza Arsanjani, Hoang M Thai, Jordan Lancaster, Jeffrey B Madwed, Steven Goldman
Citation: Elizabeth Juneman, et al. (2013) Development of a Novel Sodium-Hydrogen Exchanger Inhibitor for Heart Failure. J Cardio Vasc Med 1: 1-6

This study was designed to determine the potential therapeutic effects of a new sodium-hydrogen exchanger (NHE-1) inhibitor in the rat coronary artery ligation model of chronic heart failure. After the induction of acute myocardial infarction, rats were entered randomly dose dranging from 0.3 mg/kg, 1.0 mg/kg, and 3.0 mg/kg. Solid state micrometer hemodynamics, echocardiographic, and pressure-volume relationships were measured after 6 weeks of treatment. Treatment with this NHE- 1 inhibitor at 3 mg/kg increased (P< 0.05) ejection fraction from 23±3% (N=6) to 33±2% (N=13) while the 1 mg/kg dose decreased (P< 0.05) the infarct size in CHF rats from 21.7±1.4% (N=7) to 15.9±0.7% (N=3) and prevented (P< 0.05) dilatation of the left ventricle in CHF rats in diastole (1.0±0.1 cm, N=6) to 0.9±0.1 cm, N=10) and in systole (0.9±0.1 cm, N=6) to 0.8±0.1, N=10). These study results suggest that this new NHE-1 inhibitor may be potentially useful in treating CHF with an improvement in maladaptive left ventricule remodeling. Because the mechanism of action of this agent is entirely different than the currently applied approach in treating CHF that focuses on aggressive neurohormonal blockade and because this agent does not adversely affect important hemodynamic variables, further investigations with this agent may be warranted.

Keywords: Congestive heart failure; Sodium/hydrogen exchange; Cardiovascular disease; Cardiovascular drugs; CHF: Chronic Heart Failure; NHE-1: Sodium-Hydrogen Exchanger; NCX: Sodium-Calcium Exchanger; Ca2+: Calcium; Na+: Sodium; Na+-K+ATPase: Sodium-Potassium ATPase; NKCC: Sodium-Potassium-Chloride co-transporter; MI: Myocardial Infarction; BI: Boehringer Ingelheim; LV: left Ventricle; EF: Ejection Fraction; LVD: left ventricular dysfunction; PV: Pressure-Volume; SE: Standard Error; ARB: Angiotensin Receptor Blocker; ACE: Angiotensin Converting Enzyme

Without reviewing the pathophysiology of CHF here, altered calcium (Ca2+) handling is a hallmark of CHF. Intracellular Ca2+ concentration is closely regulated by sodium-calcium exchanger (NCX) and Ca2+ efflux is dependent on the intracellular sodium (Na+) concentration and trans-sarcolemmal Na gradient. Multiple channels including sodium-potassium ATPase (Na+-K+ ATPase), sodium-hydrogen exporter (NHE), sodium-bicarbonate co-transporter, sodium-potassium-chloride co-transporter (NKCC), and sodium-magnesium exchanger are responsible for regulation of intracellular sodium in cardiac myocytes. The intracellular concentration of Na+ is significantly increased in heart failure, primarily due to influx of Na+. The NHE plays an integral part in rise of intracellular Na+ concentration and development of hypertrophy in heart failure. Because of its multifaceted role in myocardial function, there has been interest in examining the effects of NHE-1 inhibitors in heart failure.

In this study we report the physiologic responses of a new NHE-1 inhibitor, in a rodent model of heart failure. Previous evaluation of the pharmacokinetic properties of this agent in rat and dog revealed low clearance and robust oral bioavailability, suggesting a potential for once daily oral administration. This new compound was found to be potentially effective in preventing ischemic injury in isolated cells systems and in ischemic injury in isolated cells systems and in a Langendorff isolated heart preparation. Based on these encouraging a pharmacokinetic data, and the established preclinical roof of principle, the next step in new drug development was to test this inhibitor in an appropriate disease-relevant animal model. For this, we chose the rat coronary ligation model of CHF, which is the established model of chronic ischemic heart failure and well performed in our laboratory. The model with permanent occlusion of the left coronary artery is important because this model a similar to the clinical syndrome of CHF. This rat coronary artery model of CHF is the same model used in the classic study defining the beneficial use of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition with captopril in the treatment of CHF. Thus results in this model have the potential to be predictive of the clinical response seen in patients.


In vivohemodynamic effect of NHE1: As noted previously by our laboratory, rats with severe CHF compared to Sham had changes (P< 0.05) in right ventricular weight, mean arterial pressure, tau, the time constant of LV relaxation, LV systolic pressure, LV end-diastolic pressure, +LVdP/dt, -LVdP/dt, dead volume and peak developed pressure. In this study, treatment resulted in no changes in body weight, chamber weight or hemodynamics. Because we stopped the lowest dose (0.3 mg/kg) there are only hemodynamic data with this dose in rats with CHF.

Echocardiographic changes in LV function and Dimensions with NHE1: Rats with CHF have decreases in EF accompanied by increases in LV systolic and diastolic dimensions. There was no change in anterior wallsystolic displacement. These data are consistent with other reports in this model showing that at 6 weeks after left coronary artery ligation, rats with large MIs have dilated left ventricles with LV remodeling and poor LV function (14,15). Treatment with the highest dose of 3 mg/kg increased (P< 0.05) ejection fraction from 23±3% (N=6) to 33±2% (N=13). Treatment with 1 mg/kg prevented maladaptive LV remodeling, it prevented (P< 0.05) dilatation of the LV in CHF rats in diastole (1.0±0.1 cm, N=6) to 0.9±0.1 cm, N=10) and in systole (0.9±0.1 cm, N=6) to 0.8±0.1, N=10) with no change anterior wall thickening.

Pressure-Volume relationships:  Although there are no significant changes in the PV relationships for either the Sham or CHF rats, there is a trend for the PV loop in CHF to be shifted toward the pressure axis with treatment. These data are consistent with the trend toward decreases in LV dimensions seen with treatment in CHF rats.


This study can be viewed as a corollary of a pilot Phase II clinical trial to look for a signal of a beneficial physiologic effect of this new NHE-1 inhibitor in CHF. In terms of drug development, this is an appropriate approach, i.e., take an agent with a therapeutic focus, with an acceptable toxicology profile, alter its pharmacokinetics to improve its oral delivery and bioavailability and then study the drug in an appropriate animal model. The administration of this agent to rats with CHF after left coronary artery ligation resulted in a therapeutic benefit with an increase in EF and a decrease in infarct size in rats with the largest infarcts. There is a suggestion of the prevention of LV remodeling with decreases in LV end-diastolic and end-systolic dimensions accompanied by a similar trend in the PV loop with a shift toward the pressure axis. There were no changes in hemodynamics.

Importantly, the decrease in infarct size with no changes in hemodynamicswould positively affect LV remodeling by minimizing LV dilatation without changes in LV afterload. From a therapeutic perspective, an agent like this may be advantageous in the treatment of heart failure after MI. The lack of hemodynamic changes is not a clinical problem because we already have agents that decrease afterload and lower LV end-diastolic pressure such as angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotens in receptor blockers (ARBs). In treating CHF, we also have diuretics to control blood volume, which in turn reduces LV end-diastolic pressure. The other potential advantage of an NHE-1 inhibitor is that as opposed to our current use of aggressive neurohormonal blockade, this represents a different approach to treating CHF. This is attractive because we essentially have exhausted or maximized our effects of neurohumoral blockade and with no real new treatments for CHF introduced in the last 10-15 years, need to look for other approaches to treat CHF.

Drug development is obviously a complicated and expensive undertaking. In exploring this agent, we would proposea stepwise approach. In this case with an agent whose analogs have been studied extensively, our thought would be to perform a larger dose ranging study in CHF rats to define dose response curves for systolic function as well as obtain more information on pharmacokinetics, as well as diastolic function and structural changes.

An attractive aspect of this work is that we are examining an agent with a different mechanisms of action that current treatments for heart failure. The stimulus to study the agent in an animal model of heart failure was based on multifaceted roles of sodium-hydrogen exchangers on myocardial function. Nine isoforms of NHE have currently been identified, with NHE- 1 being the predominant isoform in the plasma membrane of the myocardium [3,24]. Because NHE is activated by intracellular acidosis, angiotensin II, and catecholamines, its activity is expectedly increased in heart failure. Inhibition of NHE-1 has previously been associated with decreased fibrosis, apoptosis, preserved contractility, and attenuation of hypertrophy and development of heart failure.

1. Baartscheer A, van Borren MMGJ (2008) Sodium Ion Transporters as New Therapeutic Targets in Heart Failure. Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem 6: 229-236.
2. Murphy E, Eisner DA (2009) Regulation of Intracellular and Mitochondrial Sodium in Health and Disease. Circ Res 104: 292-303
3. Despa S, Islam MA, Weber CR, Pogwizd SM, Bers DM (2002) Intracellular Na(+) Concentration is Elevated in Heart Failure but Na/K Pump Function is Unchanged. Circulation 105: 2543-2548.
4. Baartscheer A, Schumacher CA, van Borren MMGJ, Belterman CNW, Coronel R, et al. (2003) Increased Na+/H+-Exchange Activity is the Cause of Increased [Na+]i and Underlies Disturbed Calcium Handling in the Rabbit Pressure and Volume Overload Heart Failure Model. Cardiovasc Res 57: 1015-1024.
5.  Pieske B, Houser SR (2003) [Na+]i Handling in the Failing Human Heart. Cardiovasc Res 57: 874-886.
6.  Engelhardt S, Hein L, Keller U, Klämbt K, Lohse MJ (2002) Inhibition of Na(+)-H(+) Exchange Prevents Hypertrophy, Fibrosis, and Heart Failure in Beta(1)- Adrenergic Receptor Transgenic Mice. Circ Res 90: 814-819.
7.  Chen L, Chen CX, Gan XT, Beier N, Scholz W, et al. (2004) Inhibition and Reversal of Myocardial Infarction-Induced Hypertrophy and Heart Failure by NHE-1 Inhibition. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 286: 381-387.
8.  Marano G, Vergari A, Catalano L, Gaudi S, Palazzesi S, et al. (2004) Na+/ H+ Exchange Inhibition Attenuates Left Ventricular Remodeling and Preserves Systolic Function in Pressure-Overloaded Hearts. Br J Pharmacol 141: 526-532.
9. Goldman S, Raya TE (1995) Rat Infarct Model of Myocardial Infarction and Heart Failure. J Card Fail 1: 169-177.
10. Gaballa MA, Goldman S (2002) Ventricular Remodeling in Heart Failure. J Card Fail. 8: 476-485.
11. Pfeffer MA, Pfeffer JM, Steinberg C, Finn P (1985) Survival After Experimental Myocardial Infarction: Beneficial Effects of Long-Term Therapy with Captopril. Circulation 72: 406-412.
12. Raya TE, Gay RG, Aguirre M, Goldman S (1989) Importance of Venodilatation in Prevention of Left Ventricular Dilatation after Chronic Large Myocardial Infarction in Rats: A Comparison of Captopril and Hydralazine. Circ Res 64: 330-337.

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pone.0070764.g006  Morpholino knockdown of aquaporin-1a1 reduces water influx.       NIHMS262281.html

nihms81087f1  Localization of claudin proteins in mammalian kidney.      F1.medium  intracellular Mg2+ in normal and Mg2+ depleted immortalized mouse distal convoluted tubule (MDCT) cells

F2.small  membrane voltage influences Mg2+ uptake in MDCT cells    pnas.1203834109fig04  Gene expression analysis of renal claudins

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