Hypoxia-induced contraction of chicken embryo mesenteric arteries: mechanisms and developmental changes

Leonie Brinks, Rob M. J. Moonen, Javier Moral-Sanz, Bianca Barreira, Lilian Kessels - van Wylick, Francisco Perez-Vizcaino, Angel Cogolludo, Eduardo Villamor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The fetal cardiovascular responses to acute hypoxia include a redistribution of the cardiac output toward the heart and the brain at the expense of other organs, such as the intestine. We hypothesized that hypoxia exerts a direct effect on the mesenteric artery (MA) that may contribute to this response. Using wire myography, we investigated the response to hypoxia (Po-2 similar to 2.5 kPa for 20 min) of isolated MAs from 15- to 21-day chicken embryos (E15, E19, E21), and 1- to 45-day-old chickens (P1, P3, P14, P45). Agonist-induced pretone or an intact endothelium were not required to obtain a consistent and reproducible response to hypoxia, which showed a pattern of initial rapid phasic contraction followed by a sustained tonic contraction. Phasic contraction was reduced by elimination of extracellular Ca2+ or by presence of the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin, the alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonist prazosin, or inhibitors of L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (nifedipine), mitochondrial electron transport chain (rotenone and antimycin A), and NADPH oxidase (VAS2870). The Rho-kinase inhibitor Y27632 impaired both phasic and tonic contraction and, when combined with elimination of extracellular Ca2+, hypoxia-induced contraction was virtually abolished. Hypoxic MA contraction was absent at E15 but present from E19 and increased toward the first days posthatching. It then decreased during the first weeks of life and P45 MAs were unable to sustain hypoxia-induced contraction over time. In conclusion, the results of the present study demonstrate that hypoxic vasoconstriction is an intrinsic feature of chicken MA vascular smooth muscle cells during late embryogenesis and the perinatal period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R858-R869
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • oxygen signaling
  • hypoxia
  • mesenteric
  • fetus
  • newborn
  • chicken embryo

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