Endothelial and epithelial cells form physical barriers that modulate the exchange of fluid and molecules. The integrity of these barriers can be influenced by signaling through G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and ion channels. Serotonin (5-HT) is an important vasoactive mediator of tissue edema and inflammation. However, the mechanisms that drive 5-HT-induced plasma extravasation are poorly defined. The Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) ion channel is an established enhancer of signaling by GPCRs that promote inflammation and endothelial barrier disruption. Here, we investigated the role of TRPV4 in 5-HT-induced plasma extravasation using pharmacological and genetic approaches. Activation of either TRPV4 or 5-HT receptors promoted significant plasma extravasation in the airway and upper gastrointestinal tract of mice. 5-HT-mediated extravasation was significantly reduced by pharmacological inhibition of the 5-HT2A receptor subtype, or with antagonism or deletion of TRPV4, consistent with functional interaction between 5-HT receptors and TRPV4. Inhibition of receptors for the neuropeptides substance P (SP) or calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) diminished 5-HT-induced plasma extravasation. Supporting studies assessing treatment of HUVEC with 5-HT, CGRP, or SP was associated with ERK phosphorylation. Exposure to the TRPV4 activator GSK1016790A, but not 5-HT, increased intracellular Ca2+ in these cells. However, 5-HT pre-treatment enhanced GSK1016790A-mediated Ca2+ signaling, consistent with sensitization of TRPV4. The functional interaction was further characterized in HEK293 cells expressing 5-HT2A to reveal that TRPV4 enhances the duration of 5-HT-evoked Ca2+ signaling through a PLA2 and PKC-dependent mechanism. In summary, this study demonstrates that TRPV4 contributes to 5-HT2A-induced plasma extravasation in the airways and upper GI tract, with evidence supporting a mechanism of action involving SP and CGRP release.
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