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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Martin Cann

Turner, M.J., Saint-Crib, V., Patel, W., Ibrahim, S.H., Verdon, B., Ward, C., Garnett, J.P., Tarran, R., Cann, M.J. & Gray, M.A. (2016). Hypercapnia modulates cAMP signalling and cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator-dependent anion and fluid secretion in airway epithelia. The Journal of Physiology 594(6): 1643-1661.

Author(s) from Durham


Hypercapnia is clinically defined as an arterial blood partial pressure of CO2 of above 40 mmHg and is a feature of chronic lung disease. In previous studies we have demonstrated that hypercapnia modulates agonist-stimulated cAMP levels through effects on transmembrane adenylyl cyclase activity. In the airways, cAMP is known to regulate cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR)-mediated anion and fluid secretion, which contributes to airway surface liquid homeostasis. The aim of the current work was to investigate if hypercapnia could modulate cAMP-regulated ion and fluid transport in human airway epithelial cells. We found that acute exposure to hypercapnia significantly reduced forskolin-stimulated elevations in intracellular cAMP as well as both adenosine and forskolin-stimulated increases in CFTR-dependent transepithelial short-circuit current, in polarised cultures of Calu-3 human airway cells. This CO2-induced reduction in anion secretion was not due to a decrease in HCO3− transport given that neither a change in CFTR-dependent HCO3− efflux, nor Na+/HCO3− cotransporter-dependent HCO3− influx were CO2-sensitive. Hypercapnia also reduced the volume of forskolin-stimulated fluid secretion over 24 h, yet had no effect on the HCO3− content of the secreted fluid. Our data reveal that hypercapnia reduces CFTR-dependent, electrogenic Cl− and fluid secretion, but not CFTR-dependent HCO3− secretion, which highlights a differential sensitivity of Cl− and HCO3− transporters to raised CO2 in Calu-3 cells. Hypercapnia also reduced forskolin-stimulated CFTR-dependent anion secretion in primary human airway epithelia. Based on current models of airways biology, a reduction in fluid secretion, associated with hypercapnia, would be predicted to have important consequences for airways hydration and the innate defence mechanisms of the lungs.