University of Leicester
In vitro sepsis induces nociceptin....pdf (1.55 MB)

In vitro sepsis induces Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ receptor (NOP) expression in primary human vascular endothelial but not smooth muscle cells.

Download (1.55 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-02, 16:22 authored by Mark F Bird, Barbara Gallacher-Horley, John McDonald, David G McVey, Fatin Al-Janabi, Remo Guerrini, Girolamo Calo, Shu Ye, Jonathan P Thompson, David G Lambert
Sepsis is a dysregulated host response to infection that can cause widespread effects on other organs including cardiovascular depression, hypotension and organ failure. The receptor for Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ (N/OFQ), NOP is expressed on immune cells and these cells can release the peptide. Exogenous N/OFQ can dilate blood vessels and this peptide is increased in animal and human sepsis. We hypothesise that NOP receptors are present on vascular endothelial cells and therefore provide the target for released N/OFQ to cause vasodilation and hence hypotension. Using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and human vascular smooth muscle cells (HVSMC) freshly prepared from umbilical cords and up to passage 4, we assessed NOP mRNA expression by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), NOP surface receptor expression using a fluorescent NOP selective probe (N/OFQATTO594) and NOP receptor function with N/OFQ stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. As an in vitro sepsis mimic we variably incubated cells with 100ng/ml Lipopolysaccharide and Peptidoglycan G (LPS/PepG). HUVECs express NOP mRNA and this was reduced by ~80% (n = 49) after 24-48 hours treatment with LPS/PepG. Untreated cells do not express surface NOP receptors but when treated with LPS/PepG the reduced mRNA was translated into protein visualised by N/OFQATTO594 binding (n = 49). These NOP receptors in treated cells produced an N/OFQ (1μM) driven increase in ERK1/2 phosphorylation (n = 20). One (of 50) HUVEC lines expressed NOP mRNA and receptor protein in the absence of LPS/PepG treatment. In contrast, HVSMC expressed NOP mRNA and surface receptor protein (n = 10) independently of LPS/PepG treatment. These receptors were also coupled to ERK1/2 where N/OFQ (1μM) increased phosphorylation. Collectively these data show that an in vitro sepsis mimic (LPS/PepG) upregulates functional NOP expression in the vascular endothelium. Activation of these endothelial receptors as suggested from in vivo whole animal work may contribute to the hypotensive response seen in sepsis. Moreover, blockade of these receptors might be a useful adjunct in the treatment of sepsis.


Vascular-Immune axis in sepsis: Nociceptin as an immune derived vasodilator

British Heart Foundation

Find out more...


Author affiliation

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester


  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

PloS one








Public Library of Science (PLoS)





Copyright date


Available date


Spatial coverage

United States