Sex-Specific Differences in Endothelial Function Are Driven by Divergent Mitochondrial Ca2+ Handling

Article: Sex-Specific Differences in Endothelial Function Are Driven by Divergent Mitochondrial Ca2+ Handling

Authors: Celio Damacena de Angelis, Benney T Endoni, Daniel Nuno, Kathryn Lamping, Johannes Ledolter, Olha M Koval, Isabella M Grumbach

Journal: J Am Heart Assoc. 2022 Jul 5;11(13):e023912

Background Sex-specific differences in vasodilation are mediated in part by differences in cytosolic Ca2+ handling, but how variations in mitochondrial Ca2+ contributes to this effect remains unknown. Here, we investigated the extent to which mitochondrial Ca2+ entry via the MCU (mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter) drives sex differences in vasoreactivity in resistance arteries. Methods and Results Enhanced vasodilation of mesenteric resistance arteries to acetylcholine (ACh) was reduced to larger extent in female compared with male mice in 2 genetic models of endothelial MCU ablation. Ex vivo Ca2+ imaging of mesenteric arteries with Fura-2AM confirmed higher cytosolic Ca2+ transients triggered by ACh in arteries from female mice versus male mice. MCU inhibition both strongly reduced cytosolic Ca2+ transients and blocked mitochondrial Ca2+ entry. In cultured human aortic endothelial cells, treatment with physiological concentrations of estradiol enhanced cytosolic Ca2+ transients, Ca2+ buffering capacity, and mitochondrial Ca2+ entry in response to ATP or repeat Ca2+ boluses. Further experiments to establish the mechanisms underlying these effects did not reveal significant differences in the expression of MCU subunits, at either the mRNA or protein level. However, estradiol treatment was associated with an increase in mitochondrial mass, mitochondrial fusion, and the mitochondrial membrane potential and reduced mitochondrial superoxide production. Conclusions Our data confirm that mitochondrial function in endothelial cells differs by sex, with female mice having enhanced Ca2+ uptake capacity, and that these differences are attributable to the presence of more mitochondria and a higher mitochondrial membrane potential in female mice rather than differences in composition of the MCU complex.

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