TRPV4-mediated calcium influx and ciliary activity in human native airway epithelial cells

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2014 Feb;114(2):210-6. doi: 10.1111/bcpt.12135. Epub 2013 Oct 1.


The transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) is a calcium permeable ion channel expressed in airway epithelial cells. Based on studies of cell lines and animals, TRPV4 has been suggested to play a role in the regulation of ciliary beat frequency (CBF). Whether the same is true for human ciliated epithelial cells is not known. Therefore, the aim was to examine the expression and function of TRPV4 in human native nasal epithelial cells. Expression of TRPV4 mRNA in nasal epithelial cells and in the cell lines BEAS2B and 16HBE was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. A marked apical TRPV4 immunoreactivity was observed in nasal epithelial cells using immunocytochemistry. Responses to pharmacological modulation of TRPV4 were assessed with calcium imaging and CBF measurements. The TRPV4 agonist GSK1016790A produced concentration-dependent calcium responses in TRPV4-expressing HEK293, BEAS2B and 16HBE cells, and the TRPV4 antagonist HC067047 caused a rightward shift of the GSK1016790A concentration-response curves. Nasal epithelial cells responded to the TRPV4 agonist GSK1016790A with increased intracellular calcium signals and increased CBF, followed by cessation of ciliary beating and cell death. These effects were prevented or inhibited by the TRPV4 antagonist HC067047, the TRP channel blocker ruthenium red or removal of extracellular calcium. We conclude that TRPV4 is expressed in human primary nasal epithelial cells and modulates epithelial calcium levels and CBF. Thus, TRPV4 may participate in mucociliary clearance and airway protection. However, exaggerated activation of TRPV4 may result in epithelial cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • TRPV Cation Channels / antagonists & inhibitors
  • TRPV Cation Channels / genetics*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels
  • RNA, Messenger
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV4 protein, human
  • Calcium