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Catecholaminergic Vasopressors Reduce Toll-Like Receptor Agonist-Induced Microvascular Endothelial Cell Permeability But Not Cytokine Production.



Catecholaminergic vasopressors are the cornerstone of circulatory shock management. Nevertheless, catecholamines have problematic side effects, arousing a growing interest in noncatecholaminergic agents such as vasopressin or angiotensin-II. However, their respective effects on sepsis-associated microvascular endothelial dysfunction such as permeability or inflammation remain elusive. We investigated the role of catecholamines and other vasopressors on Toll-like receptor agonists-induced microvascular endothelial permeability and inflammation.


University research laboratory/cell research.


Human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells from multiple donors.


Confluent monolayers of human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells were treated with Toll-like receptor agonists (lipopolysaccharide, Poly[I:C], or tripalmitoyl-S-glyceryl cysteine) in the presence or absence of epinephrine, norepinephrine, vasopressin, and angiotensin-II. Permeability was inferred from transendothelial resistance, measured using electrical cell impedance sensing, where decreased transendothelial resistance is consistent with increased permeability. Cell-cell junction molecule expression was assessed via immunofluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. We quantified cytokines in supernatants of Toll-like receptor agonist-treated human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells.

Measurements and main results

Epinephrine and norepinephrine both ameliorate lipopolysaccharide, polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, or tripalmitoyl-S-glyceryl cysteine-induced reductions in transendothelial resistance, a surrogate for endothelial permeability. In contrast, the noncatecholaminergic agents, vasopressin, and angiotensin-II did not affect Toll-like receptor agonists-induced reductions in transendothelial resistance. β1- and β2-adrenergic receptor antagonists reduced the effects of the catecholamines on transendothelial resistance, whereas α-adrenergic receptor antagonists did not. We observed that epinephrine and norepinephrine induced actin cytoskeletal rearrangement and normalized the membrane expression of proteins involved with adherens-junctions (vascular endothelial-cadherin) and tight-junctions (zona occludens-1). Despite having a substantial effect on endothelial permeability, epinephrine and norepinephrine did not affect human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cell survival or production of interleukin-8, interleukin-6, or monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (CCL-2) induced by Toll-like receptor agonists, suggesting that these functions are regulated separately from permeability.


Our findings demonstrate that treatment with epinephrine or norepinephrine strongly reduces endothelial permeability induced by agonists of multiple Toll-like receptors (Toll-like receptor-2, Toll-like receptor-3, Toll-like receptor-4) in vitro. Our studies suggest that both β1- and β2-adrenergic receptors mediate the stabilizing effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine on the endothelial barrier.

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