The effects of hypoxia (pO2 approximately 25 mm Hg) on Ca2+ signaling stimulated by extracellular ATP in human saphenous vein endothelial cells were investigated using fluorimetric recordings from Fura-2 loaded cells. In the absence of extracellular Ca2+, ATP-evoked rises of cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) because of mobilization from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). These responses were reduced by prior exposure to hypoxia but potentiated during hypoxia. Hypoxia itself liberated Ca2+ from the ER, but unlike the effects of ATP this effect was not inhibited by blockade of the inositol trisphosphate receptor. By contrast, ryanodine blocked the effects of hypoxia but not those of ATP. Antioxidants abolished the effects of hypoxia but potentiated the effects of ATP. Inhibition of NADPH oxidase also augmented ATP-evoked responses but was without effect on hypoxia-evoked rises of [Ca2+]i. However, either uncoupling mitochondrial electron transport or inhibiting complex I markedly suppressed the actions of hypoxia yet exerted only small inhibitory effects on ATP-evoked rises of [Ca2+]i. Both hypoxia and ATP were able to activate capacitative Ca2+ entry. Our results indicate that hypoxia regulates intracellular Ca2+ signaling via two distinct pathways. First, it modulates agonist-evoked liberation of Ca2+ from the ER primarily through regulation of reactive oxygen species generation from NADPH oxidase. Second, it liberates Ca2+ from the ER via ryanodine receptors, an effect requiring mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation. These findings suggest that local O2 tension is a major determinant of Ca2+ signaling in the vascular endothelium, a finding that is likely to be of both physiological and pathophysiological importance.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





13349 - 13354


Adenosine Triphosphate, Calcium, Calcium Signaling, Cells, Cultured, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Endothelial Cells, Endothelium, Vascular, Fluorescent Dyes, Fura-2, Humans, Hypoxia, NADPH Oxidase, Oxygen, Reactive Oxygen Species, Veins