Stabilization of cell-cell junctions by active Vitamin D ameliorates uraemia-induced loss of human endothelial barrier function

Marc Vila Cuenca, Jan van Bezu, Rob H. J. Beelen, Marc G. Vervloet, Peter L. Hordijk

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Uraemia induces endothelial cell (EC) injury and impaired repair capacity, for which the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Active vitamin D (VD) may promote endothelial repair, however, the mechanism that mediates the effects of VD in chronic kidney disease are poorly understood. Thus, we investigated uraemia-induced endothelial damage and the protection against such damage by active VD. Methods: We applied electric cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) to study real-time responses of human ECs exposed to pooled uraemic and non-uraemic plasma with or without the addition of active VD. The effects of indoxyl sulphate and p-cresol were tested in non-uraemic plasma. Structural changes for vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin and F-actin were assessed by immunostaining and quantified. Results: The exposure of ECs to uraemic media significantly decreased endothelial barrier function after 24 h. Cell migration after electrical wounding and recovery of the barrier after thrombin-induced loss of integrity were significantly impaired in uraemic-medium stimulated cells and cells exposed to indoxyl sulphate and p-cresol. This effect on ECIS was dependent on loss of cell-cell interaction. Mechanistically, we found that EC, exposed to uraemic media, displayed disrupted VE-cadherin interactions and F-actin reorganization. VD supplementation rescued both endothelial barrier function and cell-cell interactions in ECs exposed to uraemic media. These events were associated with an increment of VE-cadherin at intercellular junctions. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate a potentially clinically relevant mechanism for uraemia-induced endothelial damage. Furthermore, active VD rescued the uraemic medium-induced loss of cell-cell adhesion, revealing a novel role of active VD in preservation of endothelial integrity during uraemia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-264
Number of pages13
JournalNephrology, dialysis, transplantation
Issue number2
Early online date30 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Barrier function
  • CKD
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • VE-cadherin
  • Vitamin D

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