Inhibition of hypoxia-induced calcium responses in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle by acetazolamide is independent of carbonic anhydrase inhibition

Larissa A. Shimoda, Trevor Luke, J. T. Sylvester, Hui Wen Shih, Ahamindra Jain, Erik R. Swenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) occurs with ascent to high altitude and can contribute to development of high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Vascular smooth muscle contains carbonic anhydrase (CA), and acetazolamide (AZ), a CA inhibitor, blunts HPV and might be useful in the prevention of HAPE. The mechanism by which AZ impairs HPV is uncertain. Originally developed as a diuretic, AZ also has direct effects on systemic vascular smooth muscle, including modulation of pH and membrane potential; however, the effect of AZ on pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) is unknown. Since HPV requires Ca2+ influx into PASMCs and can be modulated by pH, we hypothesized that AZ alters hypoxia-induced changes in PASMC intracellular pH (pHi) or Ca2+ concentration ([Ca 2+]i). Using fluorescent microscopy, we tested the effect of AZ as well as two other potent CA inhibitors, benzolamide and ethoxzolamide, which exhibit low and high membrane permeability, respectively, on hypoxia-induced responses in PASMCs. Hypoxia caused a significant increase in [Ca2+]i but no change in pHi. All three CA inhibitors slightly decreased basal pHi, but only AZ caused a concentration-dependent decrease in the [Ca2+]i response to hypoxia. AZ had no effect on the KCl-induced increase in [Ca 2+]i or membrane potential. N-methyl-AZ, a synthesized compound lacking the unsubstituted sulfonamide group required for CA inhibition, had no effect on pHi but inhibited hypoxia-induced Ca2+ responses. These results suggest that AZ attenuates HPV by selectively inhibiting hypoxia-induced Ca2+ responses via a mechanism independent of CA inhibition, changes in pHi, or membrane potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L1002-L1012
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007



  • Intracellular Ca
  • Pulmonary vascular smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology

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