p38 MAP kinase mediates burn serum-induced endothelial barrier dysfunction: involvement of F-actin rearrangement and L-caldesmon phosphorylation

Zhi-gang Chu, Jia-ping Zhang, Hua-pei Song, Jiong-yu Hu, Qiong Zhang, Fei Xiang, Yue-sheng Huang
Shock 2010, 34 (3): 222-8
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that circulating factors released after a severe burn cause endothelial barrier dysfunction by triggering endothelial cell (EC) contraction through a p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase-dependent mechanism. Human umbilical vein ECs (ECV304 cell line) were cultured to create a monolayer of cells that were then cultured with 20% human normal or burn serum. Monolayer permeability was measured by the influx of labeled albumin across the cells. Endothelial cells contraction was determined by alterations of cell surface area and formation of intracellular gaps. P38 MAP kinase activation, F-actin arrangement, and L-caldesmon phosphorylation were assessed by Western blots or immunofluorescence staining. These studies showed that exposure to burn serum resulted in a significant increase in endothelial permeability in a time-dependent manner, which was paralleled by a rapid and persistent activation of p38 MAP kinases. Morphologically, increased intercellular gaps, reduced cell surface area, and a unique rearrangement of F-actin cytoskeleton were observed in burn serum-treated ECs. Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase suppressed the rearrangement of F-actin cytoskeleton, reduced the occurrence of burn serum-induced formation of intercellular gaps, and ameliorated endothelial hyperpermeability. Further study showed that phosphorylation of L-caldesmon was enhanced in burn serum-treated cells via p38 MAP kinase; overexpression of L-caldesmon by adenovirus transfection, however, attenuated the increase in endothelial permeability by burn serum challenge. Collectively, these results have demonstrated for the first time that p38 MAP kinase is an important participant in mediating burn serum-induced endothelial barrier dysfunction through rearrangement of the F-actin cytoskeleton and phosphorylation of L-caldesmon. Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase in vivo, thus, would be a promising therapeutic strategy in ameliorating burn shock development.

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