Simultaneous Measurements of Intracellular Calcium and Membrane Potential in Freshly Isolated and Intact Mouse Cerebral Endothelium.


Department of Basic Sciences, Loma Linda University; [Email]


Cerebral arteries and their respective microcirculation deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain via blood flow regulation. Endothelial cells line the lumen of blood vessels and command changes in vascular diameter as needed to meet the metabolic demand of neurons. Primary endothelial-dependent signaling pathways of hyperpolarization of membrane potential (Vm) and nitric oxide typically operate in parallel to mediate vasodilation and thereby increase blood flow. Although integral to coordinating vasodilation over several millimeters of vascular length, components of endothelium-derived hyperpolarization (EDH) have been historically difficult to measure. These components of EDH entail intracellular Ca2+ [Ca2+]i increases and subsequent activation of small- and intermediate conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (SKCa/IKCa) channels. Here, we present a simplified illustration of the isolation of fresh endothelium from mouse cerebral arteries; simultaneous measurements of endothelial [Ca2+]i and Vm using Fura-2 photometry and intracellular sharp electrodes, respectively; and a continuous superfusion of salt solutions and pharmacological agents under physiological conditions (pH 7.4, 37 °C). Posterior cerebral arteries from the Circle of Willis are removed free of the posterior communicating and the basilar arteries. Enzymatic digestion of cleaned posterior cerebral arterial segments and subsequent trituration facilitates removal of adventitia, perivascular nerves, and smooth muscle cells. Resulting posterior cerebral arterial endothelial "tubes" are then secured under a microscope and examined using a camera, photomultiplier tube, and one to two electrometers while under continuous superfusion. Collectively, this method can simultaneously measure changes in endothelial [Ca2+]i and Vm in discrete cellular locations, in addition to the spreading of EDH through gap junctions up to millimeter distances along the intact endothelium. This method is expected to yield a high-throughput analysis of the cerebral endothelial functions underlying mechanisms of blood flow regulation in the normal and diseased brain.