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1.  Prostacyclin Inhibits Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Growth by a Frizzled 9-Dependent Pathway That Is Blocked by Secreted Frizzled-Related Protein 112 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2010;12(3):244-253.
The goal of this study was to assess the ability of iloprost, an orally active prostacyclin analog, to inhibit transformed growth of human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and to define the mechanism of iloprost's tumor suppressive effects. In a panel of NSCLC cell lines, the ability of iloprost to inhibit transformed cell growth was not correlated with the expression of the cell surface receptor for prostacyclin, but instead was correlated with the presence of Frizzled 9 (Fzd 9) and the activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ). Silencing of Fzd 9 blocked PPARγ activation by iloprost, and expression of Fzd 9 in cells lacking the protein resulted in iloprost's activation of PPARγ and inhibition of transformed growth. Interestingly, soluble Frizzled-related protein-1, a well-known inhibitor of Wnt/Fzd signaling, also blocked the effects of iloprost and Fzd 9. Moreover, mice treated with iloprost had reduced lung tumors and increased Fzd 9 expression. These studies define a novel paradigm, linking the eicosanoid pathway and Wnt signaling. In addition, these data also suggest that prostacyclin analogs may represent a new class of therapeutic agents in the treatment of NSCLC where the restoration of noncanonical Wnt signaling maybe important for the inhibition of transformed cell growth.
PMCID: PMC2838442  PMID: 20234818
2.  Review of inhaled iloprost for the control of pulmonary artery hypertension in children 
In the pediatric population, pulmonary hypertension may present as an acute event in the setting of lung or cardiac pathology or as a chronic disease, mainly as idiopathic pulmonary hypertension or associated with congenital heart disease. Recently, new pharmacologic approaches have demonstrated significant efficacy in the management of adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension; these include intravenous epoprostenol, prostacyclin analogs, endothelin receptor antagonists and phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. The same treatment strategies are currently used in children. There are only few reports of the use of inhaled iloprost in pediatrics, only one of which reported the use of chronic inhaled iloprost in a significant number of children. This report showed that 1) the acute pulmonary vasodilator response to inhaled iloprost is equivalent to that of inhaled nitric oxide; 2) acute inhalation of iloprost can induce bronchoconstriction 3) the addition of inhaled iloprost can reduce the need for intravenous prostanoid therapy in some patients; 4) most children tolerated the combination of inhaled iloprost and endothelin receptor antagonist or phosphodiesterase inhibitors; 5) Several patients had clinical deterioration during chronic inhaled iloprost therapy and required rescue therapy with intravenous prostanoids. In this review we will discuss the role of inhaled iloprost in acute and chronic pulmonary hypertension in children.
PMCID: PMC2672461  PMID: 19436672
pulmonary hypertension; children; iloprost
3.  Iloprost-induced desensitization of the prostacyclin receptor in isolated rabbit lungs 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):4.
The rapid desensitization of the human prostacyclin (IP) in response to agonist binding has been shown in cell culture. Phosphorylation of the IP receptor by protein kinase C (PKC) has been suggested to be involved in this process.
Methods and results
In this study we investigated the vasodilatory effects of iloprost, a stable prostacyclin analogue, in perfused rabbit lungs. Continuous infusion of the thromboxane mimetic U46619 was employed to establish stable pulmonary hypertension. A complete loss of the vasodilatory response to iloprost was observed in experiments with continuous iloprost perfusion, maintaining the intravascular concentration of this prostanoid over a 180 min period. When lungs under chronic iloprost infusion were acutely challenged with inhaled iloprost, a corresponding complete loss of vasoreactivity was observed. This desensitization was not dependent on upregulation of cAMP-specific phosphodiesterases or changes in adenylate cyclase activity, as suggested by unaltered dose-response curves to agents directly affecting these enzymes. Application of a prostaglandin E1 receptor antagonist 6-isopropoxy-9-oxoxanthene-2-carboxylic acid (AH 6809) or the PKC inhibitor bisindolylmaleimide I (BIM) enhanced the vasodilatory response to infused iloprost and partially prevented tachyphylaxis.
A three-hour infusion of iloprost in pulmonary hypertensive rabbit lungs results in complete loss of the lung vasodilatory response to this prostanoid. This rapid desensitization is apparently not linked to changes in adenylate cyclase and phosphodiesterase activation, but may involve PKC function and co-stimulation of the EP1 receptor in addition to the IP receptor by this prostacyclin analogue.
PMCID: PMC1802745  PMID: 17257398
4.  A prostacyclin analogue, iloprost, protects from bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):34.
Metabolites of arachidonic acid such as prostacyclin (PGI2) have been shown to participate in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis by inhibiting the expression of pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic mediators. In this investigation, we examined whether iloprost, a stable PGI2 analogue, could prevent bleomycin-induced pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis in a mouse model.
Mice received a single intratracheal injection of bleomycin with or without intraperitoneal iloprost. Pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis were analysed by histological evaluation, cellular composition of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, and hydroxyproline content. Lung mechanics were measured. We also analysed the expression of inflammatory mediators in BAL fluid and lung tissue.
Administration of iloprost significantly improved survival rate and reduced weight loss in the mice induced by bleomycin. The severe inflammatory response and fibrotic changes were significantly attenuated in the mice treated with iloprost as shown by reduction in infiltration of inflammatory cells into the airways and pulmonary parenchyma, diminution in interstitial collagen deposition, and lung hydroxyproline content. Iloprost significantly improved lung static compliance and tissue elastance. It increased the expression of IFNγ and CXCL10 in lung tissue measured by RT-PCR and their levels in BAL fluid as measured by ELISA. Levels of TNFα, IL-6 and TGFβ1 were lowered by iloprost.
Iloprost prevents bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, possibly by upregulating antifibrotic mediators (IFNγ and CXCL10) and downregulating pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic cytokines (TNFα, IL-6, and TGFβ1). Prostacyclin may represent a novel pharmacological agent for treating pulmonary fibrotic diseases.
PMCID: PMC2848635  PMID: 20302663
5.  Iloprost suppresses connective tissue growth factor production in fibroblasts and in the skin of scleroderma patients 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2001;108(2):241-250.
Patients with scleroderma receiving Iloprost as a treatment for severe Raynaud’s phenomenon report a reduction in skin tightness, suggesting that this drug inhibits skin fibrosis. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), a recently described profibrotic cytokine, acts downstream and in concert with TGF-β to stimulate the fibrotic process and is involved in the fibrosis seen in scleroderma. Here we show that Iloprost, acting by elevation of cAMP, blocks the induction of CTGF and the increase in collagen synthesis in fibroblasts exposed to TGF-β. The potency of Iloprost with respect to suppression of CTGF far exceeds that of other prostanoid receptor agonists, suggesting that its effect is mediated by the prostacyclin receptor IP. By sampling dermal interstitial fluid using a suction blister device, we show that CTGF levels are greatly elevated in the dermis of scleroderma patients compared with healthy controls and that Iloprost infusion causes a marked decrease in dermal CTGF levels. These studies suggest that Iloprost could be reducing the level of a key profibrotic cytokine in scleroderma patients and that endogenous production of eicosanoids may limit the fibrotic response to TGF-β.
PMCID: PMC203022  PMID: 11457877
6.  Milrinone enhances relaxation to prostacyclin and iloprost in pulmonary arteries isolated from lambs with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn 
Prostacyclin is a pulmonary vasodilator and is produced by prostacyclin synthase and stimulates adenylate cyclase (AC) via the prostacyclin receptor (IP) to produce cAMP. Forskolin is a direct stimulant of AC. Phosphodiesterase 3 hydrolyzes cAMP and is inhibited by milrinone.
To characterize the prostacyclin-AC-cAMP pathway in the ovine ductal ligation model of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).
University-based laboratory animal facility.
Lambs delivered to time-dated pregnant ewes.
Fifth generation pulmonary arteries (PA) and lung parenchyma were isolated from control fetal lambs (n = 8) and fetal lambs with PPHN induced by antenatal ductal ligation (n = 9). We studied relaxation responses to various agonists (milrinone, forskolin, prostacyclin, and iloprost, a prostacyclin analog) that increase cAMP in PA after half-maximal constriction with norepinephrine and pretreatment with propranolol ± indo-methacin. Lung protein levels of prostacyclin synthase, IP, AC2, and phosphodiesterase 3A were analyzed by Western blot and cAMP by enzyme-linked immunoassay.
Main Results
Milrinone relaxed control and PPHN PA and pretreatment with indomethacin significantly impaired this response. Relaxation to milrinone, prostacyclin, and iloprost were significantly impaired in PA from PPHN lambs. Pretreatment with milrinone markedly enhanced relaxation to prostacyclin and iloprost in PPHN PA, similar to relaxation in control PA. Relaxation to forskolin was similar in control and PPHN PAs indicating normal AC activity. Protein levels of prostacyclin synthase and IP were decreased in PPHN lungs compared with control, but AC2, cAMP, and phosphodiesterase 3A remained unchanged.
Prostacyclin and iloprost are dilators of PAs from PPHN lambs and their effect is enhanced by milrinone. This combination therapy may be an effective strategy in the management of patients with PPHN.
PMCID: PMC2741129  PMID: 19057444
pulmonary hypertension; nitric oxide; prostacyclin; newborn; phosphodiesterase; cyclic AMP
7.  Effects of inhaled iloprost on right ventricular contractility, right ventriculo-vascular coupling and ventricular interdependence: a randomized placebo-controlled trial in an experimental model of acute pulmonary hypertension 
Critical Care  2008;12(5):R113.
Prostacyclin inhalation is increasingly used to treat acute pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular failure, although its pharmacodynamic properties remain controversial. Prostacyclins not only affect vasomotor tone but may also have cAMP-mediated positive inotropic effects and modulate autonomic nervous system tone. We studied the role of these different mechanisms in the overall haemodynamic effects produced by iloprost inhalation in an experimental model of acute pulmonary hypertension.
In this prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled animal study, twenty-six pigs (mean weight 35 ± 2 kg) were instrumented with biventricular conductance catheters, a pulmonary artery flow probe and a high-fidelity pulmonary artery pressure catheter. The effects of inhaled iloprost (50 μg) were studied in the following groups: animals with acute hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension, and healthy animals with and without blockade of the autonomic nervous system.
During pulmonary hypertension, inhalation of iloprost resulted in a 51% increase in cardiac output compared with placebo (5.6 ± 0.7 versus 3.7 ± 0.8 l/minute; P = 0.0013), a selective reduction in right ventricular afterload (effective pulmonary arterial elastance: 0.6 ± 0.3 versus 1.2 ± 0.5 mmHg/ml; P = 0.0005) and a significant increase in left ventricular end-diastolic volume (91 ± 12 versus 70 ± 20 ml; P = 0.006). Interestingly, right ventricular contractility was reduced after iloprost-treatment (slope of preload recruitable stroke work: 2.2 ± 0.5 versus 3.4 ± 0.8 mWatt·s/ml; P = 0.0002), whereas ventriculo-vascular coupling remained essentially preserved (ratio of right ventricular end-systolic elastance to effective pulmonary arterial elastance: 0.97 ± 0.33 versus 1.03 ± 0.15). In healthy animals, inhaled iloprost had only minimal haemodynamic effects and produced no direct effects on myocardial contractility, even after pharmacological blockade of the autonomic nervous system.
In animals with acute pulmonary hypertension, inhaled iloprost improved global haemodynamics primarily via selective pulmonary vasodilatation and restoration of left ventricular preload. The reduction in right ventricular afterload is associated with a paradoxical decrease in right ventricular contractility. Our data suggest that this reflects an indirect mechanism by which ventriculo-vascular coupling is maintained at the lowest possible energetic cost. We found no evidence for a direct negative inotropic effect of iloprost.
PMCID: PMC2592739  PMID: 18783596
8.  Long term inhalation of iloprost in a child with primary pulmonary hypertension: an alternative to continuous infusion 
Heart  2001;86(3):e10.
Primary pulmonary hypertension is a rare disease in childhood associated with a poor prognosis. However, during the past 10 years, pulmonary vasodilator treatment has somewhat improved its prognosis. Long term continuous infusion of prostacyclin (epoprostenol) has been shown to improve physical capacity and to reduce mortality in primary and secondary pulmonary hypertension. It has been reported in adults that daily repetitive inhalation of iloprost, a prostacyclin analogue, seems also suitable for long term therapy of pulmonary hypertension. Repetitive inhalation of iloprost was administered to a 5 year old boy with severe primary pulmonary hypertension. He showed continuous clinical improvement without any side effects over the three years of treatment. This treatment may offer an alternative to continuous intravenous prostacyclin infusion and obviates the need for a permanent central venous catheter.

Keywords: iloprost; inhalation; prostacyclin; pulmonary hypertension
PMCID: PMC1729896  PMID: 11514501
9.  Novel approach for the management of sub-massive pulmonary embolism 
Annals of Thoracic Medicine  2012;7(3):157-161.
Right ventricular (RV) dysfunction has been identified as a poor prognostic indicator in sub-massive pulmonary embolism (SPE). We hypothesized that using selective vasodilator agent is beneficial in improving RV function in patients with this condition.
We used inhaled prostacyclin analogue (Iloprost, Ventavis®) in five patients with SPE. Helical computerized tomography angiogram was confirmatory for pulmonary embolism and echocardiography was used to evaluate the RV status. All patients received inhaled Iloprost, 2.5 to 5 μg every 4 hours for 3 weeks.
Patients were prospectively followed for 3 months. They were assessed at baseline before starting Iloprost treatment and at 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months after treatment. All patients showed significant improvement in their functional class, Borg dyspnea score, NT pro-BNP level, and echocardiographic parameters.
In SPE, directing therapy toward decreasing pulmonary vascular resistance improves the associated pulmonary hemodynamic compromise and improves RV function.
PMCID: PMC3425049  PMID: 22924075
Iloprost; pulmonary hypertension; pulmonary vascular resistance; right ventricular function; sub-massive pulmonary embolism
10.  A multicenter, retrospective study of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension transitioned from parenteral prostacyclin therapy to inhaled iloprost 
Pulmonary Circulation  2013;3(2):381-388.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by progressive increases in pulmonary vascular resistance, leading to right heart failure and death. Guidelines recommend customization of treatment, necessitating the development of effective strategies for transitioning patients among treatments. In this study, we characterized our experience with patient transitions from parenteral prostacyclin to inhaled iloprost. We retrospectively assessed records from 11 centers of 37 consecutive patients with PAH aged ≥ 18 years who were treated with intravenous (IV) or subcutaneous (SC) prostacyclin analogues and transitioned to inhaled iloprost. The transition period began on the first day of inhaled iloprost with the intent of discontinuing parenteral prostacyclin and ended on the first day on inhaled iloprost free of parenteral prostacyclin. Persistence was defined as the absence of (1) parenteral prostacyclin while remaining on inhaled iloprost during post-transition Days 1-90 and (2) no reinitiation of parenteral prostacyclin during post-transition Days 90-365. All patients were clinically stable before transitioning to inhaled iloprost. The mean age was 46.5 years, 70.3% were female, 51.4% had idiopathic PAH, and 43.0% were in New York Heart Association Functional Class III. Among patients with an overlapping transition, the mean transition period was 10.5 days. A transition dosing algorithm was used in 10 patients (27.0%). At one year, 78.4% of the patients remained persistent on inhaled iloprost and 81.1% were free of clinical worsening. In selected patients on background oral PAH therapy, transitioning from parenteral prostacyclin to inhaled iloprost appears safe and feasible and is associated with long-term success. Further study is needed to define the optimal patient selection criteria and transition algorithm.
PMCID: PMC3757833  PMID: 24015339
iloprost; persistence; prostacyclin; pulmonary arterial hypertension; transition; treatment strategy
11.  Long-term effects of intravenous iloprost in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension deteriorating on non-parenteral therapy 
The majority of patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) in functional classes II and III are currently being treated with non-parenteral therapies, including endothelin receptor antagonists (ERA), phosphodiesterase (PDE)-5 inhibitors, inhaled iloprost or combinations of these substances. If these treatments fail, current guidelines recommend the addition of parenteral prostanoid therapy. There is, however, limited evidence for the efficacy of parenteral prostanoids when added to combinations of non-parenteral therapies.
In this retrospective, multicentre study we collected data from consecutive IPAH patients receiving intravenous iloprost in addition to optimized non-parenteral therapy between Jan 2002 and Dec 2009. Analyses included 6 min walk distance (6MWD), functional class, need for transplantation, and survival.
During the observation period, 50 patients were treated with intravenous iloprost in addition to non-parenteral therapy; 44% of the patients were on dual combination therapy and 52% on triple combination. Three months after initiation of iloprost, functional class had improved in 24% of the patients and the median 6MWD had increased from 289 m to 298 m (n.s.). During the observation period, 22 patients (44%) died and 14 (28%) underwent lung transplantation. The probabilities of LuTx-free survival at 1, 3 and 5 years following iloprost initiation were 38%, 17% and 17%, respectively. A 6MWD < 300 m and persistent functional class IV at 3 months after initiation of intravenous iloprost were predictors of an adverse outcome.
In essence, late initiation of intravenous iloprost in IPAH patients who previously failed to respond to non-parenteral therapies appears to be of limited efficacy in the majority patients. Alternative therapeutic options are currently not available, underlying the need for the development of new drugs.
PMCID: PMC3247176  PMID: 22133492
12.  Efficacy of inhaled iloprost in the management of pulmonary hypertension after cardiopulmonary bypass in infants undergoing congenital heart surgery. A case series of 31 patients 
Reactive pulmonary hypertension is frequent in children with high pulmonary flow and pressure. Inhaled iloprost and nitric oxide are the only substances approved as selective pulmonary vasodilators, but data about the effectiveness and safety of inhaled iloprost during cardiac surgery in infants and children are limited.
We retrospectively analysed the effects of inhaled iloprost after cardiopulmonary bypass weaning on the ratio of mean pulmonary artery to mean arterial pressure. The effectiveness of the inhalation set up was tested in an in vitro study.
Thirty-one patients received inhaled iloprost during surgery. The clinically used inhalation set up for inhaled iloprost delivered 20% to 30% (500 to 750 ng * kg-1) of the nebulizer dose and caused a decrease in the ratio of mean pulmonary artery to mean arterial pressure from 0.6±0.2 to 0.4±0.1 and 0.4±0.1 (30 and 60 minutes after)p <0.05. In eleven (35%) patients norepinephrine infusion was started.
Our data suggest that a single dose of inhaled iloprost significantly decreases the ratio of mean pulmonary artery to mean arterial pressure for at least 60 min. Vasopressor support may be indicated to avoid systemic hypotension. The filled dose in the nebulizer should be high enough to compensate for the high depletion rate of the pediatric inhalation system. However, our study allows no final decision about beneficial or detrimental effects of the off label use of inhaled iloprost to reduce pulmonary artery pressure during congenital heart surgery.
PMCID: PMC3484621  PMID: 23439227
pediatric heart surgery; pulmonary hypertension; iloprost; inhalation therapy
13.  Short- and Long-Term Effects of Inhaled Iloprost Therapy in Children With Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
This study investigated the short- and long-term outcome of children with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) treated with inhaled iloprost.
Inhaled iloprost has been approved for the treatment of adults with PAH, but little is known about the effects in children with PAH.
We evaluated the acute effects of inhaled iloprost on hemodynamic status and lung function and the response to long-term therapy in 22 children (range 4.5 to 17.7 years) with PAH (idiopathic, n = 12; congenital heart disease, n = 10). Cardiac catheterization, standard lung function testing before and after iloprost inhalation, 6-min walk test, World Health Organization functional class, and hemodynamic parameters were monitored.
Acute administration of inhaled iloprost lowered mean pulmonary artery pressure equivalent to the response to inhaled nitric oxide with oxygen. Acute iloprost inhalation reduced forced expiratory volume in 1 s and mid-volume forced expiratory flow by 5% and 10%, respectively, consistent with acute bronchoconstriction. At 6 months, functional class improved in 35%, decreased in 15%, and remained unchanged in 50% of children. Sixty-four percent of patients continued receiving long-term iloprost therapy, 36% stopped iloprost, due to lower airway reactivity, clinical deterioration, or death. In 9 patients on chronic intravenous prostanoids, 8 transitioned from intravenous prostanoids to inhaled iloprost, which continued during follow-up.
Inhaled iloprost caused sustained functional improvement in some children with PAH, although inhaled iloprost occasionally induced bronchoconstriction. Most patients tolerated the transition from intravenous to inhaled prostanoid therapy. Clinical deterioration, side effects, and poor compliance, owing to the frequency of treatments, could limit chronic treatment in children.
PMCID: PMC3125969  PMID: 18191742
14.  Prostacyclin prevents murine lung cancer independent of the membrane receptor by activation of PPARγ 
Overexpression of prostacyclin synthase (PGIS) decreases lung tumor multiplicity in chemical and cigarette-smoke induced murine lung cancer models. Prostacyclin signals through a single G-protein coupled receptor (IP), which signals through cAMP. To determine the role of this receptor in lung cancer chemoprevention by prostacyclin, PGIS-overexpressing mice were crossed to mice that lack the IP receptor (IP (−/−)). Carcinogen-induced lung tumor incidence was similar in IP(+/+), IP(+/−) and IP(−/−) mice, and overexpression of PGIS gave equal protection in all three groups, indicating that the protective effects of prostacyclin are not mediated through activation of IP. Since prostacyclin can activate members of the PPAR family of nuclear receptors, we examined the role of PPARγ in prostacyclin’s protection against lung tumorigenesis. Iloprost, a stable prostacyclin analog, activated PPARγ in non-transformed bronchial epithelial cells and in a subset of human non-small cell lung cancer cell lines (NSCLC). Iloprost-impregnated chow fed to wild-type mice resulted in elevated lung macrophages and decreased lung tumor formation. Transgenic animals with lung specific PPARγ-overexpression also developed fewer lung tumors. This reduction was not enhanced by administration of supplemental iloprost. These studies indicate that PPARγ is a critical target for prostacyclin mediated lung cancer chemoprevention, and may also have therapeutic activity.
PMCID: PMC2680197  PMID: 19138979
15.  Prostacyclin in the intensive care setting 
The prostacyclins-prostanoids were one of the first medications used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Three prostanoids have been developed to treat PAH: epoprostenol, treprostinil, and iloprost. In the acute setting, experience is growing, using the inhaled forms of these three medications. Inhalation may improve ventilation/perfusion matching, whereas in the intravenous form these medications may cause nonselective pulmonary vasodilation and may worsen ventilation/perfusion matching. Currently, there are no universal recommendations for dosing delivery of inhaled prostanoids to intubated patients in the intensive care unit setting.
PMCID: PMC3116926  PMID: 20216163
epoprostenol; treprostinil; iloprost; pulmonary arterial hypertension; congenital heart disease; critical care
16.  Iloprost improves endothelial barrier function in LPS-induced lung injury 
Protective effects of prostacyclin and its stable analog Iloprost are mediated by elevation of intracellular cAMP leading to enhancement of peripheral actin cytoskeleton and cell-cell adhesive structures. This study tested hypothesis that iloprost may exhibit protective effects against lung injury and endothelial barrier dysfunction induced by bacterial wall lypopolysacharide (LPS).
Endothelial barrier dysfunction was assessed by measurements of transendothelial permeability, morphologically, and analysis of LPS-activated inflammatory signaling. In vivo, C57BL/6J mice were challenged with LPS with or without iloprost or 8-bromoadenosine-3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (Br-cAMP) treatment. Lung injury was monitored by measurements of bronchoalveolar lavage protein content, cell count, and Evans blue extravasation.
Iloprost and Br-cAMP attenuated disruption of endothelial monolayer and suppressed activation of p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase, NFκB pathway, Rho signaling, ICAM1 expression, and neutrophil migration after LPS challenge. In vivo, iloprost was effective against LPS-induced protein and neutrophil accumulation in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and reduced myeloperoxidase activation, ICAM-1 expression, and Evans blue extravasation in the lungs. Inhibition of Rac activity abolished barrier protective and anti-inflammatory effects of iloprost and Br-cAMP.
Iloprost-induced elevation of intracellular cAMP triggers Rac signaling, which attenuates LPS-induced NFκB and p38 MAPK inflammatory pathways and Rho-dependent mechanism of endothelial permeability.
PMCID: PMC3661223  PMID: 22790920
cytoskeleton; endothelium; permeability; lung; inflammation
17.  Activation of the D prostanoid 1 receptor suppresses asthma by modulation of lung dendritic cell function and induction of regulatory T cells 
Prostaglandins (PGs) can enhance or suppress inflammation by acting on different receptors expressed by hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells. Prostaglandin D2 binds to the D prostanoid (DP)1 and DP2 receptor and is seen as a critical mediator of asthma causing vasodilation, bronchoconstriction, and inflammatory cell influx. Here we show that inhalation of a selective DP1 agonist suppresses the cardinal features of asthma by targeting the function of lung dendritic cells (DCs). In mice treated with DP1 agonist or receiving DP1 agonist-treated DCs, there was an increase in Foxp3+ CD4+ regulatory T cells that suppressed inflammation in an interleukin 10–dependent way. These effects of DP1 agonist on DCs were mediated by cyclic AMP–dependent protein kinase A. We furthermore show that activation of DP1 by an endogenous ligand inhibits airway inflammation as chimeric mice with selective hematopoietic loss of DP1 had strongly enhanced airway inflammation and antigen-pulsed DCs lacking DP1 were better at inducing airway T helper 2 responses in the lung. Triggering DP1 on DCs is an important mechanism to induce regulatory T cells and to control the extent of airway inflammation. This pathway could be exploited to design novel treatments for asthma.
PMCID: PMC2118726  PMID: 17283205
18.  Inhaled iloprost for the control of pulmonary hypertension 
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a life-threatening disease characterized by an elevated pulmonary arterial pressure and vascular resistance with a poor prognosis. Various pulmonary and extrapulmonary causes are now recognized to exist separately from the idiopathic form of pulmonary hypertension. An imbalance in the presence of vasoconstrictors and vasodilators plays an important role in the pathophysiology of the disease, one example being the lack of prostacyclin. Prostacyclin and its analogues are potent vasodilators with antithrombotic, antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory qualities, all of which are important factors in the pathogenesis of precapillary pulmonary hypertension. Iloprost is a stable prostacyclin analogue available for intravenous and aerosolized application. Due to the severe side effects of intravenous administration, the use of inhaled iloprost has become a mainstay in PAH therapy. However, owing to the necessity for 6 to 9 inhalations a day, oral treatment is often preferred as a first-line therapy. Numerous studies proving the efficacy and safety of inhaled iloprost have been performed. It is therefore available for a first-line therapy for PAH. The combination with endothelin-receptor antagonists or sildenafil has shown encouraging effects. Further studies with larger patient populations will have to demonstrate the use of combination therapy for long-term treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
PMCID: PMC2686263  PMID: 19475782
pulmonary arterial hypertension; prostacyclin; iloprost; inhaled
19.  Rapid Transition from Inhaled Iloprost to Inhaled Treprostinil in Patients with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Cardiovascular Therapeutics  2013;31(1):38-44.
Inhaled treprostinil is a prostacyclin analog approved for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) that may provide a more convenient treatment option for patients receiving inhaled iloprost while maintaining the clinical benefit of inhaled prostacyclin therapy.
In this open-label safety study, 73 PAH patients were enrolled with primarily World Health Organization Class II (56%) or III (42%) symptoms. At baseline, most patients (93%) were receiving 5 μg of iloprost per dose but 38% of patients reported a dosing frequency below the labeled rate of 6–9 times daily. Patients initiated inhaled treprostinil at 3 breaths four times daily (qid) at the immediate next scheduled iloprost dose. The primary objective was to assess the safety of rapid transition from iloprost to inhaled treprostinil; clinical status and quality of life were also assessed.
Most patients (84%) achieved the target treprostinil dose of 9 breaths qid and remained on study until transition to commercial therapy (89%). The most frequent adverse events (AEs) were cough (74%), headache (44%), and nausea (30%), and five patients prematurely discontinued study drug due to AE (n = 3), disease progression (n = 1), or death (n = 1). At week 12, the time spent on daily treatment activities was reduced compared to baseline, with a mean total savings of 1.4 h per day. Improvements were also observed at week 12 for 6-min walk distance (+16.0; P < 0.001), N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (−74 pg/mL; P = 0.001), and the Cambridge Pulmonary Hypertension Outcome Review (all domains P < 0.001).
Pulmonary arterial hypertension patients can be safely transitioned from inhaled iloprost to inhaled treprostinil while maintaining clinical status.
PMCID: PMC3561685  PMID: 22970909
Iloprost; Inhaled; Pulmonary arterial hypertension; Quality of life; Treprostinil
20.  Defective alterations in the collagen network to prostacyclin in COPD lung fibroblasts 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):21.
Prostacyclin analogs are potent vasodilators and possess anti-inflammatory properties. However, the effect of prostacyclin on extracellular matrix (ECM) in COPD is not well known. Collagen fibrils and proteoglycans are essential ECM components in the lung and fibroblasts are key players in regulating the homeostasis of ECM proteins. The aim was to study the synthesis of prostacyclin and its effect on fibroblast activity and ECM production, and in particular collagen I and the collagen-associated proteoglycans biglycan and decorin.
Parenchymal lung fibroblasts were isolated from lungs from COPD patients (GOLD stage IV) and from lungs and transbronchial biopsies from control subjects. The prostacyclin analog iloprost was used to study the effect of prostacyclin on ECM protein synthesis, migration, proliferation and contractile capacity of fibroblasts.
TGF-β1 stimulation significantly increased prostacyclin synthesis in fibroblasts from COPD patients (p < 0.01), but showed no effect on fibroblasts from control subjects. Collagen I synthesis was decreased by iloprost in both control and COPD fibroblasts (p < 0.05). Conversely, iloprost significantly altered biglycan and decorin synthesis in control fibroblasts, but iloprost displayed no effect on these proteoglycans in COPD fibroblasts. Proliferation rate was reduced (p < 0.05) and contractile capacity was increased in COPD fibroblasts (p < 0.05) compared to control fibroblasts. Iloprost decreased proliferative rate in control fibroblasts (p < 0.05), whereas iloprost attenuated contraction capacity in both COPD (p < 0.01) and control fibroblasts (p < 0.05).
Iloprost reduced collagen I synthesis and fibroblast contractility but did not affect the collagen-associated proteoglycans or proliferation rate in fibroblasts from COPD patients. Enhanced prostacyclin production could lead to improper collagen network fibrillogenesis and a more emphysematous lung structure in severe COPD patients.
PMCID: PMC3585859  PMID: 23406566
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Collagen I; Fibroblast; Prostacyclin; Proteoglycans; Decorin; Biglycan; Proliferation; Fibroblast gel contraction; Transforming growth factor β
21.  Effect of Prostaglandin I2 Analogs on Cytokine Expression in Human Myeloid Dendritic Cells via Epigenetic Regulation 
Molecular Medicine  2011;18(1):433-444.
Prostaglandin I2 (PGI2) analog is regarded as a potential candidate for treating asthma. Human myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs) play a critical role in the pathogenesis of asthma. However, the effects of PGI2 analog on human mDCs are unknown. In the present study, circulating mDCs were isolated from six healthy subjects. The effects of PGI2 analogs iloprost and treprostinil on cytokine production, maturation and T-cell stimulatory function of human mDCs were investigated. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-10 were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The expression of costimulatory molecules was investigated by flow cytometry. T-cell stimulatory function was investigated by measuring interferon (IFN)-γ, IL-13 and IL-10 production by T cells cocultured with iloprost-treated mDCs. Intracellular signaling was investigated by Western blot and chromatin immunoprecipitation. We found that iloprost and treprostinil induced IL-10, but suppressed TNF-α production in polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (poly I:C)-stimulated mDCs. This effect was reversed by the I-prostanoid (IP), E-prostanoid (EP) receptor antagonists or intracellular free calcium (Ca2+) chelator. Forskolin, an adenyl cyclase activator, conferred a similar effect. Iloprost and treprostinil increased intracellular adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) levels, and iloprost also increased intracellular Ca2+. Iloprost suppressed poly I:C-induced mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phospho-p38 and phospho–activating transcription factor (ATF)2 expression. Iloprost downregulated poly I:C-induced histone H3K4 trimethylation in the TNFA gene promoter region via suppressing translocation of histone 3 lysine 4 (H3K4)-specific methyltransferases MLL (mixed lineage leukemia) and WDR5 (WD repeat domain 5). Iloprost-treated mDCs inhibited IL-13, IFN-γ and IL-10 production by T cells. In conclusion, PGI2 analogs enhance IL-10 and suppress TNF-α expression through the IP/EP2/EP4 receptors–cAMP and EP1 receptor–Ca2+ pathway. Iloprost suppressed TNF-α expression via the MAPK-p38-ATF2 pathway and epigenetic regulation by downregulation of histone H3K4 trimethylation.
PMCID: PMC3356435  PMID: 22231731
22.  Prostacyclin Analogues Stimulate Receptor-mediated cAMP Synthesis and ATP Release from Rabbit and Human Erythrocytes 
The purpose of this study was to establish that the prostacyclin (PGI2) receptor (IP receptor) is present on rabbit and human erythrocytes and that its activation stimulates cAMP synthesis and ATP release.
The effect of incubation of erythrocytes with the active PGI2 analogues, iloprost or UT-15C, on cAMP levels and ATP release was determined in the absence and presence of the IP receptor antagonist, CAY10441. Western analysis was used to determine the presence of the IP receptor on isolated membranes. To establish that effects of PGI2 analogues were not due to prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) receptor activation, the effect of PGE2 on cAMP levels and ATP release was determined.
Rabbit and human erythrocytes possess IP receptors. Iloprost and UT-15C stimulated increases in cAMP and ATP release that were prevented by the IP receptor antagonist, CAY10441. PGE2 did not stimulate cAMP accumulation or ATP release and did not inhibit iloprost-induced increases in cAMP.
This study establishes that the IP preceptor is present on rabbit and human erythrocytes and that its activation results in increases in cAMP and ATP release. These results suggest a novel mechanism by which PGI2 and its active analogues, when administered pharmacologically, could produce vasodilation.
PMCID: PMC3076303  PMID: 18574748
Red blood cell; adenylyl cyclase; adenosine triphosphate; iloprost; UT-15C
23.  Pulmonary arterial hypertension and pregnancy 
This is the case report of a pregnant woman who refused pregnancy termination when diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) functional class 2–3 at the 24th week of gestation and of her newborn. A pregnant woman with PAH functional class 2–3 was treated with inhaled prostacyclin analog (iloprost), oral sildenafil, oxygen, and low molecular weight heparin. She delivered at 32nd week by Cesarean section. The infant required oxygen up to 36th week postconceptional age and had a short steroid treatment. The mother needed close cardiovascular monitorization, intensive oxygen and pulmonary vasodilator therapy for 2 months and was discharged with oxygen and oral iloprost treatment. A multidisciplinary approach together with pulmonary vasodilator therapy may be succesful in such a high-risk pregnant woman.
PMCID: PMC3719233  PMID: 23900530
Iloprost; newborn; pregnancy; pulmonary hypertension; sildenafil; survival; therapy
24.  Prostacyclin inhibits IFN-γ-stimulated cytokine expression by reduced recruitment of p300/CBP to STAT1 in a SOCS-1 independent manner 
Increasing evidence indicates that Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) is a vascular inflammatory disease. Prostacyclin (PGI2) is widely used to treat PAH and is believed to benefit patients largely through vasodilatory effects. PGI2 is also increasingly believed to have anti-inflammatory effects; including decreasing leukocyte cytokine production, yet few mechanistic details exist to explain how these effects are mediated at the transcriptional level. Since activated monocytes are critical sources of MCP-1 and other cytokines in cardiovascular inflammation, we examined the effects of iloprost on IFN-γ and IL-6 stimulated cytokine production in human monocytes. We found iloprost inhibited IFN-γ and IL-6-induced MCP-1, IL-8, RANTES, and TNF-α production in monocytes indicating wide-ranging anti-inflammatory action. We found that activation of STAT1 was critical for IFN-γ-induced MCP-1 production and demonstrated that iloprost inhibited STAT1 activation by several actions: 1) iloprost inhibited the phosphorylation of STAT1-S727 in the transactivation domain (TAD), thereby reducing recruitment of the histone acetylase and co-activator CBP/p300 to STAT1; 2) iloprost selectively inhibited activation of janus kinase 2 (JAK2), but not JAK1, both responsible for activation STAT1 via phosphorylation of STAT1-Y701, resulting in reduced nuclear recruitment and activation of STAT1; 3) SOCS-1, which normally terminates IFN-γ-signaling, was not involved in iloprost-mediated inhibition of STAT1, indicating divergence from the classical pathway for terminating IFN-γ-signaling. We conclude that PGI2 exerts anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting STAT1 induced cytokine production, in part by targeting the transactivation domain induced recruitment of the histone acetylase CBP/p300.
PMCID: PMC2783325  PMID: 19915063
25.  Commentary on a recent article—“A prostacyclin analogue, Iloprost, protects from bleomycin-induced fibrosis in mice” Zhu Y et al. Respir Res. 2010 Mar 20;11(1):34 
Data from our laboratory show that in vitro fibroblasts are exquisitely responsive to prostacyclin and the prostacyclin derivative Iloprost, which block their activation by TGFβ. A recent article by Zhu Y et al confirm these effects in vivo showing that Iloprost, given as a single intraperitoneal injection, blocks lung fibrosis in the bleomycin model of lung injury and fibrosis. These results are important because at present no effective clinical treatments are available to treat idiopathic lung fibrosis, which progresses and leads to respiratory failure. Limiting factors for the clinical use of prostacyclin derivatives as anti-fibrotics are failure to achieve therapeutic levels in the involved fibrotic tissues, and dose limiting side effects due to vasodilatation and binding to the IP receptor on vascular cells. Possible approaches include fibroblast directed gene therapies or amelioration of the vascular side effects.
PMCID: PMC2995136  PMID: 21234124
Fibrosis; Iloprost; Prostacyclin

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