Dose-dependent effect of nocodazole on endothelial cell cytoskeleton

K. M. Smurova, A. A. Birukova, A. D. Verin, Irina B. Alieva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The endothelium lining the inner surface of blood vessels fulfils an important barrier function and specifically, it controls vascular membrane permeability as well as nutrient and metabolite exchange in circulating blood and tissue fluids. Disturbances in vascular endothelium barrier function (vascular endothelium dysfunction) are coupled to cytoskeleton rearrangements, actomyosin contractility, and as a consequence, formation of paracellular gaps between endothelial cells. Microtubules constitute the first effector link in the reaction cascade resulting in vascular endothelium dysfunction. Increased vascular permeability associated with many human diseases is also manifested as a side effect in anticancer mitosis-blocking therapy. The aim of this study was to examine the possibility of preventing side effects of mitostatic drugs in patients with vascular endothelium dysfunction and to establish effective doses able to disrupt the microtubular network without interfering with the endothelial barrier function. Previously, it was found that the population of endothelial cell microtubules is heterogeneous. Along with dynamic microtubules, cell cytoplasm contains a certain amount of post-translationally modified microtubules that are less active and less susceptible to external influences than dynamic microtubules. We have shown that the area occupied with stable microtubules is relatively large (approx. one third of the total cell area). We assume that it can account for a higher resistance of the endothelial monolayer to factors responsible for vascular endothelium dysfunction. This hypothesis was validated in this study, in which nocodazole was used to induce vascular endothelium dysfunction in lung endothelial cells. The effect of nocodazole on endothelial cell cytoskeleton was found to be dose-dependent. Nocodazole in micromolar concentrations not only irreversibly changed the barrier function, but also upset the viability of endothelial cells and induced their death. Nanomolar concentrations of nocodazole also increased the permeability of the endothelial monolayer; this effect was reversible at the drug concentration ranging from 100 to 200 nM. At 100 nM, nocodazole induced partial disruption of the microtubule network near the cell margin without any appreciable effect on acetylated microtubules and actin filaments. At 200 nM, nocodazole exerted a pronounced effect on the system of dynamic (but not acetylated) microtubules and increased the population of actin filaments in the central region of the cell. Our data suggest that disruption of peripheral microtubules triggers a cascade of reactions culminating in endothelial barrier dysfunction; however, the existence of a large population of microtubules resistant to nanomolar concentrations of the drug provides higher viability of endothelial cells and restores their functional activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalBiochemistry (Moscow) Supplement Series A: Membrane and Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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