Dilation of retinal arterioles in response to lactate: role of nitric oxide, guanylyl cyclase, and ATP-sensitive potassium channels. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: Lactate, a key metabolite in the retinal tissue, has been implicated in regulating retinal blood flow to match retinal metabolic demand. However, the direct effect of lactate on retinal vascular tone and the possible underlying signaling mechanisms remain unknown. In the present study, the roles of endothelium-derived vasodilators, guanylyl cyclase, and potassium channels were examined in lactate-induced dilation of retinal arterioles in vitro. METHODS: Porcine second-order retinal arterioles were isolated, cannulated, and pressurized to 55 cm H2O lumenal pressure without flow. Diameter changes in response to agonists were recorded with videomicroscopic techniques. RESULTS: All vessels developed basal tone (approximately 70 microm in internal diameter) and dilated dose dependently in response to neutralized L-lactate (0.01-10 mM). Inhibition of cyclooxygenase by indomethacin only slightly reduced the vasodilatory response to lactate. In contrast, blockade of monocarboxylate transporters, nitric oxide (NO) synthase, soluble guanylyl cyclase, and ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels nearly abolished lactate-induced vasodilation. The cGMP phosphodiesterase inhibitor zaprinast enhanced the vasodilation response to lactate. Similar to the lactate-induced response, the vasodilation elicited by S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine, an NO donor that activates cGMP signaling, was also inhibited by the soluble guanylyl cyclase and KATP channel blockers. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that uptake of lactate by vascular cells via monocarboxylate transporters causes retinal arteriolar dilation predominantly via stimulation of NO synthase and subsequent activation of guanylyl cyclase. The guanylyl cyclase/cGMP signaling triggers opening of KATP channels for vasodilation. A better understanding of the fundamental signaling pathways responsible for lactate-induced dilation of retinal arterioles may help shed light on the possible mechanisms contributing to the metabolic regulation of retinal blood flow under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.

published proceedings

  • Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Hein, T. W., Xu, W., & Kuo, L.

citation count

  • 94

complete list of authors

  • Hein, Travis W||Xu, Wenjuan||Kuo, Lih

publication date

  • February 2006