Purpose: Hyposmolar perfusion of intact trabecular meshwork (TM) induces a decrease in its hydraulic conductivity (Lp). However, exposure to agents that elevate intracellular cAMP in TM cells increases Lp. Since volume of TM cells could directly influence porosity of the TM and hence Lp, this study has investigated changes in volume in response to acute hyposmotic shock (i.e. regulatory volume decrease or RVD) and elevated cAMP in cultured TM cells.
Methods: Bovine trabecular meshwork cells (BTMC), grown on glass coverslips and loaded with the fluorescent dye MQAE, were used to measure rapid changes in cell volume using the principle of dynamic fluorescence quenching. Activation of volume-regulated anion channels (VRAC) was assessed by measuring volume-sensitive Cl(-) currents (I(Cl,swell)) in the whole cell configuration of the patch clamp technique and by determining the swelling-induced enhancement in I(-) permeability using the halide-sensitivity of MQAE. Expressions of ClC (chloride channels of the ClC gene family), P-glycoprotein (Pgp), and cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) Cl(-) channels were examined by RT-PCR. Elevation of cAMP in response to forskolin was confirmed by determining the phosphorylation of cAMP response element-binding protein and activating transcription factor-1 (CREB, ATF-1), which form the downstream targets of protein kinase A.
Results: As a response to hyposmotic shock, there was an acute increase in cell volume but there was no robust RVD. Patch clamp experiments showed activation of a characteristic Cl(-) current in response to cell swelling. This Cl(-) current was inhibited by NPPB (100microM) and fluoxetine (50microM), both of which are known blockers of VRAC. Experiments, which used the halide-sensitivity of MQAE, also indicated a 9-fold increase in I(-) influx upon cell swelling (8.9+/-4.6; n=9), consistent with activation of a VRAC-like Cl(-) current. To examine whether RVD is limited by K(+) conductance, the swollen cells were exposed to gramicidin, which is known to induce cation channel activity. Such a maneuver led to secondary swelling with [Na(+)](o)=140mM but a rapid shrinkage [Na(+)](o)=8mM indicating that the RVD is limited by cationic conductance necessary for K(+) efflux. Exposure to forskolin, which resulted in CREB and ATF-1 phosphorylation, caused a reversible decrease in cell volume (14.5+/-5%; n=20) under isosmotic and hyposmotic conditions. RT-PCR analysis confirmed expression of ClC-2, ClC-5, and Pgp Cl(-) channels in bovine TM cells. However, ClC-3 and CFTR were not expressed.
Conclusions: TM cells respond to acute hyposmotic shock in an osmometric manner, but their RVD is limited by K(+) conductance. The lack of CFTR expression and decrease in cell volume in response to forskolin concomitant with hyposmolarity suggest that elevated cAMP activates a K(+) conductance. Thus, the altered resistance to aqueous outflow in response to hyposmotic perfusion of the TM and elevated cAMP may be attributed to persistent cell swelling and cell shrinkage, respectively.