Rationale: Our previous studies found that Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE) activity played an essential role in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell (PASMC) proliferation and in the development of hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling. Other investigators recently observed increased expression of the NHE isoform 1 (NHE1) gene in rodents with pulmonary hypertension induced by hypoxia. However, a causal role for the NHE1 gene in pulmonary hypertension has not been determined.
Objectives: To determine the causal role of the NHE1 gene in pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling.
Methods: We used NHE1-null mice to define the role of the NHE1 gene in the development of pulmonary hypertension and remodeling induced by hypoxia and to delineate the NHE1 regulatory pathway.
Measurements and Main Results: After 2 weeks of exposure to hypoxia, in contrast to wild-type hypoxic littermates, there was no significant increase in right ventricular systolic pressure, in the ratio of right ventricular to left ventricular plus septal weight [RV/(LV + S)], or in medial wall thickness of the pulmonary arterioles in homozygous mice (NHE1−/−). There was a significant decrease in Rho kinase (ROCK1 and ROCK2) expression, accompanied by an increase in p27 expression in NHE1−/− mice.
Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that deficiency of the NHE1 gene prevented the development of hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling in mice and revealed a novel regulatory pathway associated with NHE1 signaling.
Na+/H+ exchanger isoform 1; pulmonary hypertension; vascular remodeling; hypoxia; mouse
Excessive production of endothelin-1 (ET-1), a potent vasoconstrictor, occurs with several forms of pulmonary hypertension. In addition to modulating vasomotor tone, ET-1 can potentiate pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell (PASMC) growth and migration, both of which contribute to the vascular remodeling that occurs during the development of pulmonary hypertension. It is well established that changes in cell proliferation and migration in PASMCs are associated with alkalinization of intracellular pH (pHi), typically due to activation of Na+/H+ exchange (NHE). In the systemic vasculature, ET-1 increases pHi, Na+/H+ exchange activity and stimulates cell growth via a mechanism dependent on protein kinase C (PKC). These results, coupled with data describing elevated levels of ET-1 in hypertensive animals/humans, suggest that ET-1 may play an important role in modulating pHi and smooth muscle growth in the lung; however, the effect of ET-1 on basal pHi and NHE activity has yet to be examined in PASMCs. Thus, we used fluorescent microscopy in transiently (3–5 days) cultured rat PASMCs and the pH-sensitive dye, BCECF-AM, to measure changes in basal pHi and NHE activity induced by increasing concentrations of ET-1 (10−10 to 10−8 M). We found that application of exogenous ET-1 increased pHi and NHE activity in PASMCs and that the ET-1-induced augmentation of NHE was prevented in PASMCs pretreated with an inhibitor of Rho kinase, but not inhibitors of PKC. Moreover, direct activation of PKC had no effect on pHi or NHE activity in PASMCs. Our results indicate that ET-1 can modulate pH homeostasis in PASMCs via a signaling pathway that includes Rho kinase and that, in contrast to systemic vascular smooth muscle, activation of PKC does not appear to be an important regulator of PASMC pHi.
Global alveolar hypoxia, as experienced at high-altitude living, has a serious impact on vascular physiology, particular on the pulmonary vasculature. The effects of sustained hypoxia on pulmonary arteries include sustained vasoconstriction and enhanced medial hypertrophy. As the major component of the vascular media, pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) are the main effectors of the physiological response(s) induced during or following hypoxic exposure. Endothelial cells, on the other hand, can sense humoral and haemodynamic changes incurred by hypoxia, triggering their production of vasoactive and mitogenic factors that then alter PASMC function and growth. Transmembrane ion flux through channels in the plasma membrane not only modulates excitation-contraction coupling in PASMC, but also regulates cell volume, apoptosis, and proliferation. In this review, we examine the roles of K+ and Ca2+ channels in the pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular remodeling observed during chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension.
vascular smooth muscle; ion channels; proliferation; membrane potential; chronic hypoxia
Excessive proliferation and impaired apoptosis of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) contributes to vascular obstruction in patients and fawn-hooded rats (FHR) with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Expression and activity of mitochondrial superoxide dismutase-2 (SOD2), the major generator of H2O2, is known to be reduced in PAH; however, the mechanism and therapeutic relevance of this is unknown.
Methods and Results
SOD2 expression in PASMC is decreased in PAH patients and FHR with PAH. FHR PASMC have higher proliferation and lower apoptosis rates than Sprague-Dawley PASMC. Moreover, FHR PASMC have hyperpolarized mitochondria, low H2O2 production and a reduced cytoplasmic and mitochondrial redox state. Administration of SOD2 siRNA to normal PASMC recapitulates the FHR-PAH phenotype, hyperpolarizing mitochondria, decreasing H2O2 and inhibiting caspase activity. Conversely, SOD2 over-expression in FHR PASMC, or therapy with the SOD-mimetic MnTBAP, reverses the hyperproliferative PAH phenotype. Importantly, SOD-mimetic therapy regresses PAH in vivo. Investigation of the SOD2 gene revealed no mutation, suggesting a possible epigenetic dysregulation. Genomic bisulfite sequencing demonstrates selective hypermethylation of a CpG island in an enhancer region of intron 2 and another in the promoter. Differential methylation occurs selectively in PA versus aortic SMC and is reversed by the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor, 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine, restoring both SOD2 expression and the proliferation/apoptosis ratio. The expression of the enzymes that mediate gene methylation, DNA methyltransferases 1 and 3B, is upregulated in FHR lungs.
Tissue-specific, epigenetic SOD2 deficiency initiates and sustains a heritable form of PAH by impairing redox signaling and creating a proliferative, apoptosis-resistant PASMC. SOD augmentation regresses experimental PAH. The discovery of an epigenetic component to PAH may offer new therapeutic targets.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension; Voltage-gated potassium channels (Kv1.5); Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α); Epigenetic gene methylation; DNA methyltransferase
The chronic phase of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is associated with vascular remodeling, especially thickening of the smooth muscle layer of large pulmonary arteries and muscularization of small pulmonary vessels, which normally have no associated smooth muscle. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) has been shown to induce proliferation and hypertrophy of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC), and may be important for in vivo pulmonary vascular remodeling. Here, we show that 5-HT stimulates migration of pulmonary artery PASMC. Treatment with 5-HT for 16 h increased migration of PASMC up to four-fold as monitored in a modified Boyden chamber assay. Increased migratory responses were associated with cellular morphological changes and reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. 5-HT-induced alterations in morphology were previously shown in our laboratory to require cAMP [Lee SL, Fanburg BL. Serotonin produces a configurational change of cultured smooth muscle cells that is associated with elevation of intracellular cAMP. J Cell Phys 1992;150(2):396–405], and the 5-HT4 receptor was pharmacologically determined to be the primary activator of cAMP in bovine PASMC [Becker BN, Gettys TW, Middleton JP, Olsen CL, Albers FJ, Lee SL, et al. 8-Hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin-responsive 5-hydroxytryptamine4-like receptor expressed in bovine pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells. Mol Pharmacol 1992;42(5):817–25]. We examined the role of the 5-HT4 receptor and cAMP in 5-HT-induced bovine PASMC migration. PASMC express 5-HT4 receptor mRNA, and a 5-HT4 receptor antagonist and a cAMP antagonist completely blocked 5-HT-induced cellular migration. Consistent with our previous report that a cAMP-dependent Cl− channel is required for 5-HT-induced morphological changes in PASMC, phenylanthranilic acid, a Cl− channel blocker, inhibited actin cytoskeletal reorganization and migration produced by 5-HT. We conclude that 5-HT stimulates PASMC migration and associated cytoskeletal reorganization through the 5-HT4 receptor and cAMP activation of a chloride channel.
5-HT; Migration; cAMP; Cl− channel; Cytoskeleton; 5-HTT; 5-HT4 receptor; 5-HT1B/1D receptor; MAPK
We previously showed that tanshinone IIA ameliorated the hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension (HPH) partially by attenuating pulmonary artery remodeling. The hypoxia-induced proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) is one of the major causes for pulmonary arterial remodeling, therefore the present study was performed to explore the effects and underlying mechanism of tanshinone IIA on the hypoxia-induced PASMCs proliferation. PASMCs were isolated from male Sprague-Dawley rats and cultured in normoxic (21%) or hypoxic (3%) condition. Cell proliferation was measured with 3 - (4, 5 - dimethylthiazal - 2 - yl) - 2, 5 - diphenyltetrazoliumbromide assay and cell counting. Cell cycle was measured with flow cytometry. The expression of of p27, Skp-2 and the phosphorylation of Akt were measured using western blot and/or RT-PCR respectively. The results showed that tanshinone IIA significantly inhibited the hypoxia-induced PASMCs proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner and arrested the cells in G1/G0-phase. Tanshinone IIA reversed the hypoxia-induced reduction of p27 protein, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, in PASMCs by slowing down its degradation. Knockdown of p27 with specific siRNA abolished the anti-proliferation of tanshinone IIA. Moreover, tanshinone IIA inhibited the hypoxia-induced increase of S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (Skp2) and the phosphorylation of Akt, both of which are involved in the degradation of p27 protein. In vivo tanshinone IIA significantly upregulated the hypoxia-induced p27 protein reduction and downregulated the hypoxia-induced Skp2 increase in pulmonary arteries in HPH rats. Therefore, we propose that the inhibition of tanshinone IIA on hypoxia-induce PASMCs proliferation may be due to arresting the cells in G1/G0-phase by slowing down the hypoxia-induced degradation of p27 via Akt/Skp2-associated pathway. The novel information partially explained the anti-remodeling property of tanshinone IIA on pulmonary artery in HPH.
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is upregulated in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) during hypoxia and may play a protective role in the lung’s response to hypoxia. Selective COX-2 inhibition may have detrimental pulmonary vascular consequences during hypoxia.
Methods and Results
To investigate the role of COX-2 in the pulmonary vascular response to hypoxia, we subjected wild-type and COX-2 deficient mice to a model of chronic normobaric hypoxia. COX-2 null mice developed severe pulmonary hypertension with exaggerated elevation of right ventricular systolic pressure, significant right ventricular hypertrophy, and striking vascular remodeling following hypoxia. Pulmonary vascular remodeling in COX-2 deficient mice was characterized by PASMC hypertrophy, but not increased proliferation. Furthermore, COX-2 deficient mice had significant upregulation of the ET-1 receptor (ETAR) in the lung following hypoxia. Similarly, selective pharmacologic inhibition of COX-2 in wild-type mice exacerbated hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension and resulted in PASMC hypertrophy and increased ETAR expression in pulmonary arterioles. Absence of COX-2 in vascular smooth muscle cells during hypoxia in vitro augmented traction forces and enhanced contractility of an extracellular matrix. Treatment of COX-2 deficient PASMC with iloprost, a prostaglandin (PG) I2 analog, as well as PGE2, abrogated the potent contractile response to hypoxia and restored the wild-type phenotype.
Our findings reveal that hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling is exacerbated in the absence of COX-2 with enhanced ETA receptor expression and increased PASMC hypertrophy. COX-2 deficient PASMC have a maladaptive response to hypoxia manifested by exaggerated contractility which may be rescued by either COX-2-derived PGI2 or PGE2.
hypertension; pulmonary; hypertrophy; hypoxia; prostaglandins; remodeling; vasculature
Pulmonary vascular medial hypertrophy in hypoxic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is caused in part by decreased apoptosis in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). Puerarin, an isoflavone purified from the Chinese medicinal herb kudzu, ameliorates chronic hypoxic PAH in animal models. Here we investigated the effects of puerarin on apoptosis of hypoxic human PASMCs (HPASMCs), and to determine the possible underlying mechanisms.
HPASMCs were cultured for 24 h in normoxia or hypoxia (5% O2) conditions with and without puerarin. Cell number and viability were determined with a hemacytometer or a cell counting kit. Apoptosis was detected with a TUNEL test, rhodamine-123 (R-123) fluorescence, a colorimetric assay, western blots, immunohistochemical staining and RT-PCR. Hypoxia inhibited mitochondria-dependent apoptosis and promoted HPASMC growth. In contrast, after puerarin (50 µM or more) intervention, cell growth was inhibited and apoptosis was observed. Puerarin-induced apoptosis in hypoxic HPASMCs was accompanied by reduced mitochondrial membrane potential, cytochrome c release from the mitochondria, caspase-9 activation, and Bcl-2 down-regulation with concurrent Bax up-regulation.
Puerarin promoted apoptosis in hypoxic HPASMCs by acting on the mitochondria-dependent pathway. These results suggest a new mechanism of puerarin relevant to the management of clinical hypoxic pulmonary hypertension.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a vascular remodeling disease characterized by enhanced proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell (PASMC) and suppressed apoptosis. This phenotype has been associated with the upregulation of the oncoprotein survivin promoting mitochondrial membrane potential hyperpolarization (decreasing apoptosis) and the upregulation of growth factor and cytokines like PDGF, IL-6 and vasoactive agent like endothelin-1 (ET-1) promoting PASMC proliferation. Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5), is a zinc-finger-type transcription factor implicated in the regulation of cell differentiation, proliferation, migration and apoptosis. Recent studies have demonstrated the implication of KLF5 in tissue remodeling in cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, restenosis, and cardiac hypertrophy. Nonetheless, the implication of KLF5 in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) remains unknown. We hypothesized that KLF5 up-regulation in PAH triggers PASMC proliferation and resistance to apoptosis.
Methods and results
We showed that KFL5 is upregulated in both human lung biopsies and cultured human PASMC isolated from distal pulmonary arteries from PAH patients compared to controls. Using stimulation experiments, we demonstrated that PDGF, ET-1 and IL-6 trigger KLF-5 activation in control PASMC to a level similar to the one seen in PAH-PASMC. Inhibition of the STAT3 pathway abrogates KLF5 activation in PAH-PASMC. Once activated, KLF5 promotes cyclin B1 upregulation and promotes PASMC proliferation and triggers survivin expression hyperpolarizing mitochondria membrane potential decreasing PASMC ability to undergo apoptosis.
We demonstrated for the first time that KLF5 is activated in human PAH and implicated in the pro-proliferative and anti-apoptotic phenotype that characterize PAH-PASMC. We believe that our findings will open new avenues of investigation on the role of KLF5 in PAH and might lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension; KLF5; STAT3; proliferation; apoptosis.
Stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) is a newly discovered Ca2+ sensor on the endoplasmic reticulum which is an indispensable part in the activation of store-operated Ca2+ channels (SOC). Recent studies demonstrate that SOC of pulmonary smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) were upregulated by chronic hypoxia which contribute to the enhanced pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular remodeling. However, the exact role of STIM1 in the development of chronic hypoxic pulmonary hypertension(HPH) remains unclear.
In this study we investigated the cellular distribution and expression of STIM1 by immunofluorescence, qRTPCR and Western blotting methods in Wistar rat distal intrapulmonary arteries under normal and chronic hypobaric hypoxic conditions. In vitro, Wistar rat PASMCs were isolated and cultured. PASMCs were transfected with siRNA targeting STIM1 gene by liposome. The expression of STIM1 protein was detected by Western blotting. [3H]-thymidine ([3H]-TdR) incorporation were performed to detect PASMCs proliferation. The cell cycle was analyzed by flow cytometry. The SOC-mediated Ca2+ influx was calculated by Ca2+ fluorescence imaging and the nuclear translocation of NFATc3 was determined by immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis of nuclear extracts.
We found that during the development of HPH and the initiation of vascular remodeling, the mRNA and protein expression levels of STIM1 significantly increased in the distal intrapulmonary arteries. Moderate hypoxia significantly promotes PASMCs proliferation and cell cycle progression. Silencing of STIM1 significantly decreased cellular proliferation and delayed the cell cycle progression induced by hypoxia. Silencing of STIM1 also significantly decreased SOC-mediated Ca2+ influx and inhibited the nuclear translocation of NFATc3 in hypoxic PASMCs.
Our findings suggest that chronic hypobaric hypoxia upregulates the expression of STIM1 in the distal intrapulmonary arteries which plays an important role in the hypoxia-induced PASMCs proliferation via SOC/Ca2+/NFAT pathway and may represent a novel therapeutic target for the prevention of hypoxia pulmonary hypertension.
Stromal interaction molecule 1; RNA interference; Pulmonary hypertension; Hypoxia; Cell proliferation
Pulmonary circulation is an important circulatory system in which the body brings in oxygen. Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive and fatal disease that predominantly affects women. Sustained pulmonary vasoconstriction, excessive pulmonary vascular remodeling, in situ thrombosis, and increased pulmonary vascular stiffness are the major causes for the elevated pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) in patients with PAH. The elevated PVR causes an increase in afterload in the right ventricle, leading to right ventricular hypertrophy, right heart failure, and eventually death. Understanding the pathogenic mechanisms of PAH is important for developing more effective therapeutic approach for the disease. An increase in cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]cyt) in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMC) is a major trigger for pulmonary vasoconstriction and an important stimulus for PASMC migration and proliferation which lead to pulmonary vascular wall thickening and remodeling. It is thus pertinent to define the pathogenic role of Ca2+ signaling in pulmonary vasoconstriction and PASMC proliferation to develop new therapies for PAH. [Ca2+]cyt in PASMC is increased by Ca2+ influx through Ca2+ channels in the plasma membrane and by Ca2+ release or mobilization from the intracellular stores, such as sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) or endoplasmic reticulum (ER). There are two Ca2+ entry pathways, voltage-dependent Ca2+ influx through voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCC) and voltage-independent Ca2+ influx through store-operated Ca2+ channels (SOC) and receptor-operated Ca2+ channels (ROC). This paper will focus on the potential role of VDCC, SOC, and ROC in the development and progression of sustained pulmonary vasoconstriction and excessive pulmonary vascular remodeling in PAH.
Remodeling of the pulmonary arteries is a common feature among the heterogeneous disorders that cause pulmonary hypertension. In these disorders, the remodeled pulmonary arteries often demonstrate inflammation and an accumulation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) within the vessels. Adipose tissue secretes multiple bioactive mediators (adipokines) that can influence both inflammation and remodeling, suggesting that adipokines may contribute to the development of pulmonary hypertension. We recently reported on a model of pulmonary hypertension induced by vascular inflammation, in which a deficiency of the adipokine adiponectin (APN) was associated with the extensive proliferation of PASMCs and increased pulmonary artery pressures. Based on these data, we hypothesize that APN can suppress pulmonary hypertension by directly inhibiting the proliferation of PASMCs. Here, we tested the effects of APN overexpression on pulmonary arterial remodeling by using APN-overexpressing mice in a model of pulmonary hypertension induced by inflammation. Consistent with our hypothesis, mice that overexpressed APN manfiested reduced pulmonary hypertension and remodeling compared with wild-type mice, despite developing similar levels of pulmonary vascular inflammation in the model. The overexpression of APN was also protective in a hypoxic model of pulmonary hypertension. Furthermore, APN suppressed the proliferation of PASMCs, and reduced the activity of the serum response factor–serum response element pathway, which is a critical signaling pathway for smooth muscle cell proliferation. Overall, these data suggest that APN can regulate pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary arterial remodeling through its direct effects on PASMCs. Hence, the activation of APN-like activity in the pulmonary vasculature may be beneficial in pulmonary hypertension.
pulmonary hypertension; pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells; metabolism; adiponectin
Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by thickened pulmonary arterial walls due to increased number of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC). Apoptosis of PASMC may play an important role in regulating the PASMC number and may be useful for reducing pulmonary vascular thickening. The present study examined the regulation of an anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL. Bcl-xL expression was found to be increased in the pulmonary artery of chronic hypoxia–treated rats with pulmonary vascular remodeling. Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of Bcl-xL indeed showed that this protein has anti-apoptotic activities in PASMC. Treatment of remodeled pulmonary artery with sodium nitroprusside (SNP) reduced Bcl-xL expression by targeting the bcl-xL promoter. The bcl-xL promoter contains two GATA elements, and SNP decreases the GATA-4 DNA-binding activity. Overexpression of GATA-4 attenuated the SNP-mediated suppression of Bcl-xL expression, providing direct evidence for the role of GATA-4 in Bcl-xL gene transcription. We established that SNP targets the 250 proximal region of the gata4 promoter and suppresses its gene transcription. Thus, inducers of pulmonary hypertension enhance anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL gene transcription, which can be suppressed by targeting gata4 gene transcription.
apoptosis; genes; pulmonary hypertension; smooth muscle
Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by thickened pulmonary arterial walls due to increased number of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC). Apoptosis of PASMC may play important roles in regulating the PASMC number and may be useful for reducing pulmonary vascular thickening. The present study examined the regulation of an anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL. Bcl-xL expression was found to be increased in the pulmonary artery of chronic hypoxia treated rats with pulmonary vascular remodeling. Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of Bcl-xL indeed showed that this protein has anti-apoptotic activities in PASMC. Treatment of remodeled pulmonary artery with sodium nitroprusside (SNP) reduced Bcl-xL expression by targeting the bcl-xL promoter. The bcl-xL promoter contains two GATA elements, and SNP decreases the GATA-4 DNA binding activity. Overexpression of GATA-4 attenuated the SNP-mediated suppression of Bcl-xL expression, providing direct evidence for the role of GATA-4 in Bcl-xL gene transcription. We identified that SNP targets the 250 proximal region of the gata4 promoter and suppresses its gene transcription. Thus, inducers of pulmonary hypertension enhance anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL gene transcription, which can be suppressed by targeting the gata4 gene transcription.
Apoptosis; Genes; Pulmonary hypertension; Smooth muscle
Ras homolog gene family member A (RhoA) through Rho kinase kinase (ROCK), one of its downstream effectors, regulates a wide range of cell physiological functions, including vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation, by degrading cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p27. Our previous studies found that heparin inhibition of pulmonary artery SMC (PASMC) proliferation and pulmonary hypertension was dependent on p27 up-regulation. To investigate whether ROCK, a regulator of p27, is involved in regulation of heparin inhibition of PASMC proliferation, we analyzed ROCK expression in the lungs from mice and from human PASMCs exposed to hypoxia, and investigated the effect of ROCK expression in vitro by RhoA cDNA transfection. We also investigated the effect of guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF)–H1, an upstream regulator of RhoA, on heparin inhibition of PASMC proliferation by GEF-H1 cDNA transfection. We found that: (1) hypoxia increased ROCK expression in mice and PASMCs; (2) overexpression of RhoA diminished the inhibitory effect of heparin on PASMC proliferation and down-regulated p27 expression; and (3) overexpression of GEF-H1 negated heparin inhibition of PASMC proliferation, which was accompanied by increased GTP-RhoA and decreased p27. This study demonstrates that the RhoA/ROCK pathway plays an important role in heparin inhibition on PASMC proliferation, and reveals that heparin inhibits PASMC proliferation through GEF-H1/RhoA/ROCK/p27 signaling pathway, by down-regulating GEF-H1, RhoA, and ROCK, and then up-regulating p27.
Rho kinase; guanine nucleotide exchange factor–H1; pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell; proliferation; heparin
Accumulating evidence suggests a direct role for cigarette smoke in pulmonary vascular remodeling, which contributes to the development of pulmonary hypertension. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this process remain poorly understood. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is a potential mitogen and chemoattractant implicated in several biological processes, including cell survival, proliferation, and migration. In this study, we investigated the effect of cigarette smoke extract (CSE) on cell proliferation of rat pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (rPASMCs). We found that stimulation of rPASMCs with CSE significantly increased cell proliferation and promoted cell cycle progression from G1 phase to the S and G2 phases. CSE treatment also significantly upregulated the mRNA and protein levels of PDGFB and PDGFRβ. Our study also revealed that Rottlerin, an inhibitor of PKCδ signaling, prevented CSE-induced cell proliferation, attenuated the increase of S and G2 phase populations induced by CSE treatment, and downregulated PDGFB and PDGFRβ mRNA and protein levels in rPASMCs exposed to CSE. Collectively, our data demonstrated that CSE-induced cell proliferation of rPASMCs involved upregulation of the PKCδ-PDGFB pathway.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) contributes to the mortality of
patients with lung and heart diseases. However, the underlying
mechanism has not been completely elucidated. Accumulating
evidence suggests that inflammatory response may be involved in
the pathogenesis of PH. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor
(MIF) is a critical upstream inflammatory mediator which promotes
a broad range of pathophysiological processes. The aim of the
study was to investigate the role of MIF in the pulmonary vascular
remodeling of hypoxia-induced PH. We found that MIF mRNA and
protein expression was increased in the lung tissues from hypoxic
pulmonary hypertensive rats. Intensive immunoreactivity for MIF
was observed in smooth muscle cells of large pulmonary arteries
(PAs), endothelial cells of small PAs, and inflammatory cells of
hypoxic lungs. MIF participated in the hypoxia-induced PASMCs
proliferation, and it could directly stimulate proliferation of
these cells. MIF-induced enhanced growth of PASMCs was attenuated
by MEK and JNK inhibitor. Besides, MIF antagonist ISO-1 suppressed
the ERK1/2 and JNK phosphorylation induced by MIF. In conclusion,
the current finding suggested that MIF may act on the
proliferation of PASMCs through the activation of the ERK1/2 and
JNK pathways, which contributes to hypoxic pulmonary hypertension.
This study was designed to determine whether: (1) hypoxia could directly affect ROS production in isolated mitochondria and mitochondrial complex III from pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs), and (2) Rieske iron-sulfur protein in the complex III might mediate hypoxic ROS production, leading to hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV). Our data, for the first time, demonstrate that hypoxia significantly enhances ROS production, measured by the standard ROS indicator dichlorodihydrofluorescein/diacetate, in isolated mitochondria from PASMCs. Studies using the newly-developed, specific ROS biosensor pHyPer have found that hypoxia increases mitochondrial ROS generation as well in isolated PASMCs. The hypoxic ROS production has also been observed in isolated complex III. Rieske iron-sulfur protein silencing using siRNAs abolishes the hypoxic ROS formation in isolated PASM complex III, mitochondria and cells, while Rieske iron-sulfur protein overexpression produces the opposite effect. Rieske iron-sulfur protein silencing inhibits the hypoxic increase in [Ca2+]i in PASMCs and hypoxic vasoconstriction in isolated PAs. These findings together provide novel evidence that mitochondria are the direct hypoxic targets in PASMCs, in which Rieske iron-sulfur protein in the complex III may serve as an essential, primary molecule that mediates the hypoxic ROS generation, leading to an increase in [Ca2+]i in PASMCs and HPV.
Mitochondria; Rieske iron-sulfur protein; reactive oxygen species; intracellular calcium; hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction
Activity of voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels controls membrane potential, which subsequently regulates cytoplasmic free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]cyt) in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). Acute hypoxia inhibits Kv channel function in PASMCs, inducing membrane depolarization and a rise in [Ca2+ ]cyt that triggers vasoconstriction. Prolonged hypoxia inhibits expression of Kv channels and reduces Kv channel currents in PASMCs. The consequent membrane depolarization raises [Ca2+]cyt, thus stimulating PASMC proliferation. The present review discusses recent evidence for the involvement of Kv channels in initiation of hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction and in chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension.
hypoxia; intracellular calcium; membrane potential; smooth muscle
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare progressive pulmonary vascular disorder associated with vascular remodeling and right heart failure. Vascular remodeling involves numerous signaling cascades governing pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell (PASMC) proliferation, migration and differentiation. Glycogen synthase kinase 3beta (GSK3ß) is a serine/threonine kinase and can act as a downstream regulatory switch for numerous signaling pathways. Hence, we hypothesized that GSK3ß plays a crucial role in pulmonary vascular remodeling.
All experiments were done with lung tissue or isolated PASMCs in a well-established monocrotaline (MCT)-induced PAH rat model. The mRNA expression of Wnt ligands (Wnt1, Wnt3a, Wnt5a), upstream Wnt signaling regulator genes (Frizzled Receptors 1, 2 and secreted Frizzled related protein sFRP-1) and canonical Wnt intracellular effectors (GSK3ß, Axin1) were assessed by real-time polymerase chain reaction and protein levels of GSK3ß, phospho-GSK3ß (ser 9) by western blotting and localization by immunohistochemistry. The role of GSK3ß in PASMCs proliferation was assessed by overexpression of wild-type GSK3ß (WT) and constitutively active GSK3ß S9A by [3H]-thymidine incorporation assay.
Increased levels of total and phosphorylated GSK3ß (inhibitory phosphorylation) were observed in lungs and PASMCs isolated from MCT-induced PAH rats compared to controls. Further, stimulation of MCT-PASMCs with growth factors induced GSK3ß inactivation. Most importantly, treatment with the PDGFR inhibitor, Imatinib, attenuated PDGF-BB and FCS induced GSK3ß phosphorylation. Increased expression of GSK3ß observed in lungs and PASMC isolated from MCT-induced PAH rats was confirmed to be clinically relevant as the same observation was identified in human iPAH lung explants. Overexpression of GSK3ß significantly increased MCT-PASMCs proliferation by regulating ERK phosphorylation. Constitutive activation of GSK3ß (GSK3ß S9A, 9th serine replaced to alanine) inhibited MCT-PASMCs proliferation by decreasing ERK phosphorylation.
This study supports a central role for GSK3ß in vascular remodeling processes and suggests a novel therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of PAH.
Activity of voltage-gated K+ channels (KV) in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMC) is pivotal in controlling membrane potential, cytoplasmic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]cyt, and pulmonary vasomotor tone. Acute hypoxia selectively inhibits KV channels, depolarizes PASMC, raises [Ca2+]cyt, and causes pulmonary vasoconstriction and vascular remodeling. Prolonged hypoxia (24-60 h) decreased significantly the mRNA levels of KV channel alpha subunits, KV1.2 and KV1.5. Consistently, the protein levels of KV1.2 and KV1.5 were also decreased significantly by hypoxia (48-72 h). Nevertheless, hypoxia affected negligibly the mRNA levels of KV channel beta subunits (KVbeta1, KVbeta2, and KVbeta3). The native K+ channels are composed of pore-forming alpha and auxiliary beta subunits. Assembly of KV beta subunits with alpha subunits confers rapid inactivation on the slowly or non-inactivating delayed rectifier KV channels. KV beta subunits also function as an open-channel blocker of KV channels. Thus, the diminished transcription and expression of KV alpha subunits may reduce the number of KV channels and decrease KC currents. Unchanged transcription of KV beta subunits may increase the fraction of the KV channel alpha subunits that are associated with beta subunits and further reduce the total KV currents. These data demonstrate a novel mechanism by which chronic hypoxia may cause pulmonary vasoconstriction and hypertension.
Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) modulate the cellular proliferation involved in the pathophysiology of pulmonary hypertension (PH) by hydrolyzing cAMP and cGMP. The present study was designed to determine whether any of the recently identified PDEs (PDE7-PDE11) contribute to progressive pulmonary vascular remodeling in PH. All in vitro experiments were performed with lung tissue or pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) obtained from control rats or monocrotaline (MCT)-induced pulmonary hypertensive (MCT-PH) rats, and we examined the effects of the PDE10 inhibitor papaverine (Pap) and specific small interfering RNA (siRNA). In addition, papaverine was administrated to MCT-induced PH rats from day 21 to day 35 by continuous intravenous infusion to examine the in vivo effects of PDE10A inhibition. We found that PDE10A was predominantly present in the lung vasculature, and the mRNA, protein, and activity levels of PDE10A were all significantly increased in MCT PASMCs compared with control PASMCs. Papaverine and PDE10A siRNA induced an accumulation of intracellular cAMP, activated cAMP response element binding protein and attenuated PASMC proliferation. Intravenous infusion of papaverine in MCT-PH rats resulted in a 40%–50% attenuation of the effects on pulmonary hypertensive hemodynamic parameters and pulmonary vascular remodeling. The present study is the first to demonstrate a central role of PDE10A in progressive pulmonary vascular remodeling, and the results suggest a novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of PH.
Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) is associated with proximal pulmonary artery obstruction and vascular remodeling. We hypothesized that pulmonary arterial smooth muscle (PASMC) and endothelial cells (PAEC) may actively contribute to remodeling of the proximal pulmonary vascular wall in CTEPH. Our present objective was to characterize PASMC and PAEC from large arteries of CTEPH patients and investigate their potential involvement in vascular remodeling.
Primary cultures of proximal PAEC and PASMC from patients with CTEPH, with non-thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (PH) and lung donors have been established. PAEC and PASMC have been characterized by immunofluorescence using specific markers. Expression of smooth muscle specific markers within the pulmonary vascular wall has been studied by immunofluorescence and Western blotting. Mitogenic activity and migratory capacity of PASMC and PAEC have been investigated in vitro.
PAEC express CD31 on their surface, von Willebrand factor in Weibel-Palade bodies and take up acetylated LDL. PASMC express various differentiation markers including α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), desmin and smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SMMHC). In vascular tissue from CTEPH and non-thromboembolic PH patients, expression of α-SMA and desmin is down-regulated compared to lung donors; desmin expression is also down-regulated in vascular tissue from CTEPH compared to non-thromboembolic PH patients. A low proportion of α-SMA positive cells express desmin and SMMHC in the neointima of proximal pulmonary arteries from CTEPH patients. Serum-induced mitogenic activity of PAEC and PASMC, as well as migratory capacity of PASMC, were increased in CTEPH only.
Modified proliferative and/or migratory responses of PASMC and PAEC in vitro, associated to a proliferative phenotype of PASMC suggest that PASMC and PAEC could contribute to proximal vascular remodeling in CTEPH.
Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension; Smooth Muscle Cells; Endothelial cells; Vascular Remodeling
Proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells is a characteristic of pathological vascular remodeling and represents a significant therapeutic challenge in several cardiovascular diseases. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a member of the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, was shown to inhibit proliferation of numerous cell types, implicating several different mechanisms. In this study we examined the molecular events underlying the inhibitory effects of DHA on proliferation of primary human smooth muscle cells isolated from small pulmonary artery (hPASMCs). DHA concentration-dependently inhibited hPASMC proliferation, induced G1 cell cycle arrest, and decreased cyclin D1 protein expression. DHA activated the unfolded protein response (UPR), evidenced by increased mRNA expression of HSPA5, increased phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α, and splicing of X-box binding protein 1. DHA altered cellular lipid composition and led to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. DHA-induced ROS were dependent on both intracellular Ca2+ release and entry of extracellular Ca2+. Overall cellular ROS and mitochondrial ROS were decreased by RU360, a specific inhibitor of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. DHA-induced mitochondrial dysfunction was evidenced by decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and decreased cellular ATP content. DHA triggered apoptosis as found by increased numbers of cleaved caspase-3- and TUNEL-positive cells. The free radical scavenger Tempol counteracted DHA-induced ROS, cell cycle arrest, induction of UPR, and apoptosis. We conclude that Ca2+-dependent oxidative stress is the central and initial event responsible for induction of UPR, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis in DHA-treated hPASMCs.
► DHA induces ROS production, cell cycle arrest, UPR and apoptosis in hPASMC. ► Ca2+ and mitochondria are required for DHA-mediated induction of ROS. ► DHA alters cellular lipid composition and decreases ΔΨm and cellular ATP content. ► Free radical scavenger Tempol counteracts DHA effects in hPASMC.
ATF6, activating transcription factor 6; DHA, docosahexaenoic acid; ΔΨm, mitochondrial membrane potential; eIF2α, eukaryotic initiation factor 2α; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; FCS, fetal calf serum; hPASMC, human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell; HSPA5, heat shock 70-kDa protein 5; IRE1α, inositol-requiring enzyme 1α; n-3 PUFA, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid; PERK, protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase; PC, phosphatidylcholine; PE, phosphatidylethanolamine; PTP, permeability transition pore; ROS, reactive oxygen species; TG, triglyceride; UPR, unfolded protein response; XBP-1, X-box binding protein 1; Oxidative stress; Unfolded protein response; n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid; Apoptosis; Mitochondria; Cell cycle; Free radicals
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) is a progressively devastating disease characterized by excessive proliferation of the Pulmonary Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells (PASMCs). Studies suggest that PAH and cancers share an apoptosis-resistant state featuring excessive cell proliferation. The proliferation of cancer cells is mediated by increased expression of Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 (EZH2), a mammalian histone methyltransferase that contributes to the epigenetic silencing of target genes. However, the role of EZH2 in PAH has not been studied. In this study, it is hypothesized that EZH2 could play a role in the proliferation of PASMCs.
In the present study, the expression patterns of EZH2 were investigated in normal and hypertensive mouse PASMCs. The effects of EZH2 overexpression on the proliferation of human PASMCs were tested. PASMCs were transfected with EZH2 or GFP using nucleofector system. After transfection, the cells were incubated for 48 hours at 37°C. Proliferation and cell cycle analysis were performed using flow cytometry. Apoptosis of PASMCs was determined using annexin V staining and cell migration was tested by wound healing assay.
EZH2 protein expression in mouse PASMCs were correlated with an increase in right ventricular systolic pressure and Right Ventricular Hypertrophy (RVH). The overexpression of EZH2 in human PASMCs enhances proliferation, migration, and decrease in the rate of apoptosis when compared to GFP-transfected cells. In the G2/M phase of the EZH2 transfected cells, there was a 3.5 fold increase in proliferation, while there was a significant decrease in the rate of apoptosis of PASMCs, when compared to control.
These findings suggest that EZH2 plays a role in the migration and proliferation of PASMCs, which is a major hallmark in PAH. It also suggests that EZH2 could play a role in the development of PAH and can serve as a potential target for new therapies for PAH.