Optogenetic approach for functional assays of the cardiovascular system by light activation of the vascular smooth muscle

Vascul Pharmacol. 2015 Aug;71:192-200. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2015.03.006. Epub 2015 Apr 11.


Cardiovascular diseases are the major challenge to modern medicine. Intervention to cardiovascular cells is crucial for treatment of the diseases. Here we report a novel intervention to vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells by optogenetics. Channelrhodopsin in a tandem with YFP was selectively expressed in smooth muscle of transgenic mice in which YFP fluorescence was found in arterial walls of various tissues. In dissociated VSM cells from the mice blue light evoked inward currents, leading to depolarization and contraction. In isolated mesenteric arterial rings, optostimulation produced vasoconstriction that was reproducible, sustained, light intensity-dependent and comparable to popular vasoconstrictors. Blue light raised robustly coronary resistance without significant effects on heart rate and pulse pressure. Optostimulation produced renal vasoconstriction as well. The optical vasoconstriction had temporal resolutions less than 40s in these organs. These results indicate that optical vasoconstriction can be effectively produced in various organs with channelrhodopsin expression in VSM cells.

Keywords: Cardiovascular rhodopsin; Channelrhodopsin; Optogenetics; Transgenic mice; Vascular smooth muscle cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta, Thoracic / metabolism*
  • Arteries / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Optogenetics / methods*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Vasoconstriction / physiology*