Global alveolar hypoxia, as experienced at high-altitude living, has a serious impact on vascular physiology, particularly on the pulmonary vasculature. The effects of sustained hypoxia on pulmonary arteries include sustained vasoconstriction and enhanced medial hypertrophy. As the major component of the vascular media, pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) are the main effectors of the physiological response(s) induced during or following hypoxic exposure. Endothelial cells, on the other hand, can sense humoral and hemodynamic changes incurred by hypoxia, triggering their production of vasoactive and mitogenic factors that then alter PASMC function and growth. Transmembrane ion flux through channels in the plasma membrane not only modulates excitation-contraction coupling in PASMC, but also regulates cell volume, apoptosis, and proliferation. In this review, we examine the roles of K+ and Ca2+ channels in the pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular remodeling observed during chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension.
- Chronic hypoxia
- Ion channels
- Membrane potential
- Vascular smooth muscle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine