Endothelial pannexin-1 channels modulate macrophage and smooth muscle cell activation in abdominal aortic aneurysm formation

Nat Commun. 2022 Mar 21;13(1):1521. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-29233-4.


Pannexin-1 (Panx1) channels have been shown to regulate leukocyte trafficking and tissue inflammation but the mechanism of Panx1 in chronic vascular diseases like abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) is unknown. Here we demonstrate that Panx1 on endothelial cells, but not smooth muscle cells, orchestrate a cascade of signaling events to mediate vascular inflammation and remodeling. Mechanistically, Panx1 on endothelial cells acts as a conduit for ATP release that stimulates macrophage activation via P2X7 receptors and mitochondrial DNA release to increase IL-1β and HMGB1 secretion. Secondly, Panx1 signaling regulates smooth muscle cell-dependent intracellular Ca2+ release and vascular remodeling via P2Y2 receptors. Panx1 blockade using probenecid markedly inhibits leukocyte transmigration, aortic inflammation and remodeling to mitigate AAA formation. Panx1 expression is upregulated in human AAAs and retrospective clinical data demonstrated reduced mortality in aortic aneurysm patients treated with Panx1 inhibitors. Collectively, these data identify Panx1 signaling as a contributory mechanism of AAA formation.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal* / genetics
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Connexins / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Connexins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • PANX1 protein, human
  • Adenosine Triphosphate