Institute for Medicine and Engineering Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 2004


Reproduced from The Journal of General Physiology, 2004, 123:77-87. Copyright 2004 The Rockefeller University Press.


Depletion of membrane cholesterol and substitution of endogenous cholesterol with its structural analogues was used to analyze the mechanism by which cholesterol regulates volume-regulated anion current (VRAC) in endothelial cells. Depletion of membrane cholesterol enhanced the development of VRAC activated in a swelling-independent way by dialyzing the cells either with GTPγS or with low ionic strength solution. Using MβCD–sterol complexes, 50–80% of endogenous cholesterol was substituted with a specific analogue, as verified by gas-liquid chromatography. The effects of cholesterol depletion were reversed by the substitution of endogenous cholesterol with its chiral analogue, epicholesterol, or with a plant sterol, β-sitosterol, two analogues that mimic the effect of cholesterol on the physical properties of the membrane bilayer. Alternatively, when cholesterol was substituted with coprostanol that has only minimal effect on the membrane physical properties it resulted in VRAC enhancement, similar to cholesterol depletion. In summary, our data show that these channels do not discriminate between the two chiral analogues of cholesterol, as well as between the two cholesterols and β-sitosterol, but discriminate between cholesterol and coprostanol. These observations suggest that endothelial VRAC is regulated by the physical properties of the membrane.


Cl- channels, cholesterol analogues, physical properties of the membrane, cell swelling, vascular endothelial cells



Date Posted: 02 January 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.