Mechanisms of Ca2+-stimulated fluid secretion by porcine bronchial submucosal gland serous acinar cells

Robert J. Lee, J. Kevin Foskett


The serous acini of airway submucosal glands are important for fluid secretion in the lung. Serous cells are also sites of expression of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) Cl channel. However, the mechanisms of serous cell fluid secretion remain poorly defined. In this study, serous acinar cells were isolated from porcine bronchi and studied using optical techniques previously used to examine fluid secretion in rat parotid and murine nasal acinar cells. When stimulated with the cholinergic agonist carbachol, porcine serous cells shrank by ∼20% (observed via DIC microscopy) after a profound elevation of intracellular [Ca2+] ([Ca2+]i; measured by simultaneous fura 2 fluorescence imaging). Upon removal of agonist and relaxation of [Ca2+]i to resting levels, cells swelled back to resting volume. Similar results were observed during stimulation with histamine and ATP, and elevation of [Ca2+]i was found to be necessary and sufficient to activate shrinkage. Cell volume changes were associated with changes in [Cl]i (measured using SPQ fluorescence), suggesting that shrinkage and swelling are caused by loss and gain of intracellular solute content, respectively, likely reflecting changes in the secretory state of the cells. Shrinkage was inhibited by niflumic acid but not by GlyH-101, suggesting Ca2+-activated secretion is mediated by alternative non-CFTR Cl channels, possibly including Ano1 (TMEM16A), expressed on the apical membrane of porcine serous cells. Optimal cell swelling/solute uptake required activity of the Na+K+2Cl cotransporter and Na+/H+ exchanger, both of which are expressed on the basolateral membrane of serous acini and likely contribute to sustaining transepithelial secretion.

  • lung
  • chloride
  • pig
  • airway
  • Ano1
  • CFTR
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