Angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) is a key mediator of vascular disease during sepsis, and elevated plasma levels of Ang-2 are associated with organ injury scores and poor clinical outcomes. We have previously observed that biomarkers of endothelial glycocalyx (EG) damage correlate with plasma Ang-2 levels, suggesting a potential mechanistic linkage between EG injury and Ang-2 expression during states of systemic inflammation. However, the cell signaling mechanisms regulating Ang-2 expression following EG damage are unknown. In the current study, we determined the temporal associations between plasma heparan sulfate (HS) levels as a marker of EG erosion and plasma Ang-2 levels in children with sepsis and in mouse models of sepsis. Second, we evaluated the role of shear stress–mediated 5′-adenosine monophosphate–activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling in Ang-2 expression following enzymatic HS cleavage from the surface of human primary lung microvascular endothelial cells (HLMVECs). We found that plasma HS levels peaked before plasma Ang-2 levels in children and mice with sepsis. Further, we discovered that impaired AMPK signaling contributed to increased Ang-2 expression following HS cleavage from flow-conditioned HLMVECs, establishing a paradigm by which Ang-2 may be upregulated during sepsis.
Robert P. Richter, Amit R. Ashtekar, Lei Zheng, Danielle Pretorius, Tripathi Kaushlendra, Ralph D. Sanderson, Amit Gaggar, Jillian R. Richter