Na-K-Cl cotransport regulates intracellular volume and monolayer permeability of trabecular meshwork cells

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The trabecular meshwork (TM) of the eye plays a critical role in modulating intraocular pressure (IOP) through regulation of aqueous humor outflow, although the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Ethacrynic acid, an agent known to inhibit Na-K-Cl cotransport of a number of cell types, recently has been reported to increase aqueous outflow and lower IOP through an unknown effect on the TM. In vascular endothelial cells and a variety of ether cell types, the Na-K-Cl cotransporter functions to regulate intracellular volume. The present study was conducted to evaluate TM cells for the presence of Na-K-Cl cotransport activity and to test the hypothesis that modulation of cotransport activity alters intracellular volume and, consequently, permeability of the TM. We demonstrate here that bovine and human TM cells exhibit robust Na-K-Cl cotransport activity that is inhibited by bumetanide and by ethacrynic acid. Our studies also show that TM cell Na- K-Cl cotransport is modulated by a variety of hormones and neurotransmitters. Inhibition of the cotransporter either by bumetanide, ethacrynic acid, or inhibitory hormones reduces TM intracellular volume, whereas stimulatory hormones increase cell volume. In addition, shrinkage of the cells by hypertonic media stimulates cotransport activity and initiates a subsequent regulatory volume increase. Permeability of TM cell monolayers, assessed as transmonolayer flux of [14C]sucrose, is increased by hypertonicity-induced cell shrinkage and by bumetanide. These findings suggest that Na-K-Cl cotransport of TM cells is of central importance to regulation of intracellular volume and TM permeability. Defects of Na-K-Cl cotransport may underlie the pathophysiology of glaucoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number4 37-4
StatePublished - 1995


  • aqueous outflow
  • bumetanide
  • glaucoma
  • hypertonicity
  • regulation of intracellular volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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