The inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD) is the nephron segment with the highest production of endothelin-1 (ET-1) and the greatest expression of ET-1 receptors that function to adjust Na+ and water balance. We have reported that male rats have reduced natriuresis in response to direct intramedullary infusion of ET-1 compared with female rats. Our aim was to determine whether alterations of ET-1 receptor expression and downstream intracellular Ca2+ signaling within the IMCD could account for these sex differences. IMCDs from male and female rats were isolated for radioligand binding or microdissected for intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) measurement by fluorescence imaging of fura-2 AM. IMCD from male and female rats had similar ETB expression (655 ± 201 vs. 567 ± 39 fmol/mg protein, respectively), whereas male rats had significantly higher ETA expression (436 ± 162 vs. 47 ± 29 fmol/mg protein, respectively; P < 0.05). The [Ca2+]i response to ET-1 was significantly greater in IMCDs from male compared with female rats (288 ± 52 vs. 118 ± 32 AUC, nM × 3 min, respectively; P < 0.05). In IMCDs from male rats, the [Ca2+]i response to ET-1 was significantly blunted by the ETA antagonist BQ-123 but not by the ETB antagonist BQ-788 (control: 137 ± 27; BQ-123: 53 ± 11; BQ-788: 84 ± 25 AUC, nM × 3 min; P < 0.05), consistent with greater ETA receptor function in male rats. These data demonstrate a sex difference in ETA receptor expression that results in differences in ET-1 Ca2+ signaling in IMCD. Since activation of ETA receptors is thought to oppose ETB receptor activation, enhanced ETA function in male rats could limit the natriuretic effects of ETB receptor activation.
- Inner medullary collecting duct
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