Pulmonary endothelial thiazine uptake: Separation of cell surface reduction from intracellular reoxidation

Marilyn P. Merker*, Robert D. Bongard, John H. Linehan, Yoshiyuki Okamoto, Drahomir Vyprachticky, Becky M. Brantmeier, David L. Roerig, Christopher A. Dawson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to further evaluate the hypothesis that the accumulation of thiazine dyes, such as methylene blue, by cultured bovine pulmonary arterial endothelial cells involves reduction on the cell surface, followed by diffusion of the lipophilic reduced form of the dye into the cells and intracellular reoxidation to the relatively membrane-impermeant hydrophilic form. The specific question addressed was whether inhibition of methylene blue uptake by cyanide and azide is via inhibition of extracellular reduction or inhibition of intracellular reoxidation. We used the cell membrane-impermeant ferricyanide ion as a secondary electron acceptor to measure the extracellular reduction of methylene blue independently from its uptake by the cells. In addition, toluidine blue O, incorporated into an acrylamide polymer so that it could not permeate the cells in either its reduced or oxidized forms, was used to examine the effects of cyanide and azide on the extracellular reduction. Microscopic observations of the effect of the inhibitors on the intracellular accumulation of methylene blue were also made. The results indicate that the reduction and intracellular sequestration are separate processes and that, in doses that inhibited intracellular reoxidation, and therefore uptake and sequestration, neither cyanide nor azide had an inhibitory effect on extracellular reduction. The intracellular distribution of the observable oxidized form of the dye was consistent with oxidation of the reduced dye within subcellular organelles. The demonstration that extracellular reduction and intracellular sequestration are separate events is consistent with the hypothesized sequence of events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L673-L680
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number4 16-4
StatePublished - Apr 1997


  • azide
  • cyanide
  • ferricyanide
  • menadione
  • trans-plasma membrane electron transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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