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1.  Histological characterization of mast cell chymase in patients with pulmonary hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Pulmonary Circulation  2014;4(1):128-136.
Our previous findings demonstrated an increase in pulmonary mast cells (MCs) in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). Also, literature suggests a potential role for MCs in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, a comprehensive investigation of lungs from patients is still needed. We systematically investigated the presence/expression of MCs/MC chymase in the lungs of IPAH and COPD patients by (immuno)histochemistry and subsequent quantification. We found that total and perivascular chymase-positive MCs were significantly higher in IPAH patients than in donors. In addition, chymase-positive MCs were located in proximity to regions with prominent expression of big-endothelin-1 in the pulmonary vessels of IPAH patients. Total and perivascular MCs around resistant vessels were augmented and a significant majority of them were degranulated (activated) in COPD patients. While the total chymase-positive MC count tended to increase in COPD patients, the perivascular number was significantly enhanced in all vessel sizes analyzed. Surprisingly, MC and chymase-positive MC numbers positively correlated with better lung function in COPD. Our findings suggest that activated MCs, possibly by releasing chymase, may contribute to pulmonary vascular remodeling in IPAH. Pulmonary MCs/chymase may have compartment-specific (vascular vs. airway) functions in COPD. Future studies should elucidate the mechanisms of MC accumulation and the role of MC chymase in pathologies of these severe lung diseases.
doi:10.1086/675642
PMCID: PMC4070756
idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; mast cells; chymase
2.  Short-term improvement in pulmonary hemodynamics is strongly predictive of long-term survival in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension 
Pulmonary Circulation  2013;3(3):523-532.
Hemodynamic measurements provide important parameters for determining prognosis and therapy in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Current guidelines do not incorporate the possible predictive value of individual changes in hemodynamic variables during the disease time course, and there is no consensus about the time point for hemodynamic reevaluation. We aimed to assess the long-term prognostic value of short-term changes in hemodynamic parameters. The study included 122 patients with PAH from the Giessen Pulmonary Hypertension Registry who underwent hemodynamic evaluation at baseline and at 16 weeks (±2.5 standard deviations [SDs]; range: 4–29 weeks) after initial assessment. At baseline, mean pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) was 1,109 dyn s cm−5, and 82% of patients were in World Health Organization (WHO) functional class III or IV. Fifty patients died, and 2 underwent lung transplantation during long-term observation (≤10 years; mean: 4.7 years). Kaplan-Meier estimates for transplant-free survival were 93.3%, 76.1%, 57.8%, and 53.1% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years, respectively. When assigned to prognostic groups, improvements in cardiac output of >0.22 L min−1 (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.05; ) and a decrease in PVR of >176 dyn s cm−5 (HR: 1.89; ) at 4–29 weeks were associated with long-term transplant-free survival. Changes in mean pulmonary arterial pressure did not predict long-term prognosis. Of 2 noninvasive parameters assessed in this selected patient group, change in WHO functional class, but not in 6-minute walk distance, predicted long-term prognosis. Short-term assessment of changes in hemodynamic parameters at after initial invasive evaluation is useful to determine long-term prognosis in patients with PAH.
doi:10.1086/674338
PMCID: PMC4070816  PMID: 24618538
cardiac output; Kaplan-Meier survival estimates; mean pulmonary arterial pressure; prognosis; pulmonary vascular resistance
4.  Schistosomiasis causes remodeling of pulmonary vessels in the lung in a heterogeneous localized manner: Detailed study 
Pulmonary Circulation  2013;3(2):356-362.
Schistosomiasis is a global parasitic disease with high impact on public health in tropical areas. Schistosomiasis is a well-described cause of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The exact pathogenesis is still unclear, though inflammatory mechanisms are suspected. Another unknown is whether the changes in the pulmonary vasculature are generalized or localized. We studied 13 mice infected with cercariae for 12 weeks compared with 10 control mice. In our model, we observed that the liver was a target during infection and was enlarged more than two-fold after infection. However, right heart hypertrophy as measured by RV/(LV + S) ratio was not observed at this time point. Moreover, we noticed that 72% of the sampled lobes (92% of the lungs) harvested from these animals costained evidence of granulomatous changes, secondary to egg deposition. We systemically mapped the distribution of granulomatous lesions in right lung lobes (n = 43) of infected mice. We observed that the distribution of the granulomatous lesions was heterogeneous. Remodeled pulmonary vessels were seen in 26% of the lobes (46% of the lungs) and were observed only in close proximity to the granuloma. No remodeling was observed in the absence of granulomas. These findings support the view that pulmonary vascular remodeling is caused by the local presence of granulomas in PAH associated with schistosomiasis. The heterogeneous nature of the remodeling partly explains why many patients with schistosomiasis do not develop pulmonary hypertension.
doi:10.4103/2045-8932.114764
PMCID: PMC3757830  PMID: 24015336
schistosomiasis; pulmonary hypertension; inflammation; experimental models
5.  Smoking: Is it a risk factor for pulmonary vascular diseases? 
Pulmonary Circulation  2012;2(4):395-396.
doi:10.4103/2045-8932.105027
PMCID: PMC3555409  PMID: 23372923
6.  Endotoxin induces proliferation of NSCLC in vitro and in vivo: role of COX-2 and EGFR activation 
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy  2012;62(2):309-320.
Lung cancer is frequently complicated by pulmonary infections which may impair prognosis of this disease. Therefore, we investigated the effect of bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) on tumor proliferation in vitro in the non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line A549, ex vivo in a tissue culture model using human NSCLC specimens and in vivo in the A549 adenocarcinoma mouse model. LPS induced a time- and dose-dependent increase in proliferation of A549 cells as quantified by MTS activity and cell counting. In parallel, an increased expression of the proliferation marker Ki-67 and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 was detected both in A549 cells and in ex vivo human NSCLC tissue. Large amounts of COX-2-derived prostaglandin (PG)E2 were secreted from LPS-stimulated A549 cells. Pharmacological interventions revealed that the proliferative effect of LPS was dependent on CD14 and Toll-like receptor (TLR)4. Moreover, blocking of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) also decreased LPS-induced proliferation of A549 cells. Inhibition of COX-2 activity in A549 cells severely attenuated both PGE2 release and proliferation in response to LPS. Synthesis of PGE2 was also reduced by inhibiting CD14, TLR4 and EGFR in A549 cells. The proliferative effect of LPS on A549 cells could be reproduced in the A549 adenocarcinoma mouse model with enhancement of tumor growth and Ki-67 expression in implanted tumors. In summary, LPS induces proliferation of NSCLC cells in vitro, ex vivo in human NSCLC specimen and in vivo in a mouse model of NSCLC. Pulmonary infection may thus directly induce tumor progression in NSCLC.
doi:10.1007/s00262-012-1341-2
PMCID: PMC3569588  PMID: 22923191
Lung cancer; Infection; Endotoxin; Tumor proliferation; Inflammation
7.  The Soluble Guanylate Cyclase Stimulator Riociguat Ameliorates Pulmonary Hypertension Induced by Hypoxia and SU5416 in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43433.
Background
The nitric oxide (NO)–soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC)–cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) signal-transduction pathway is impaired in many cardiovascular diseases, including pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Riociguat (BAY 63–2521) is a stimulator of sGC that works both in synergy with and independently of NO to increase levels of cGMP. The aims of this study were to investigate the role of NO–sGC–cGMP signaling in a model of severe PAH and to evaluate the effects of sGC stimulation by riociguat and PDE5 inhibition by sildenafil on pulmonary hemodynamics and vascular remodeling in severe experimental PAH.
Methods and Results
Severe angioproliferative PAH was induced in rats by combined exposure to the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor antagonist SU5416 and hypoxia (SUHx). Twenty-one days thereafter rats were randomized to receive either riociguat (10 mg/kg/day), sildenafil (50 mg/kg/day) or vehicle by oral gavage, for 14 days until the day of the terminal hemodynamic measurements. Administration of riociguat or sildenafil significantly decreased right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP). Riociguat significantly decreased RV hypertrophy (RVH) (0.55±0.02, p<0.05), increased cardiac output (60.8±.8 mL/minute, p<0.05) and decreased total pulmonary resistance (4.03±0.3 mmHg min−1 ml−1 100 g BW, p<0.05), compared with sildenafil and vehicle. Both compounds significantly decreased the RV collagen content and improved RV function, but the effects of riociguat on tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion and RV myocardial performance were significantly better than those of sildenafil (p<0.05). The proportion of occluded arteries was significantly lower in animals receiving riociguat than in those receiving vehicle (p<0.05); furthermore, the neointima/media ratio was significantly lower in those receiving riociguat than in those receiving sildenafil or vehicle (p<0.05).
Conclusion
Riociguat and sildenafil significantly reduced RVSP and RVH, and improved RV function compared with vehicle. Riociguat had a greater effect on hemodynamics and RVH than sildenafil.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043433
PMCID: PMC3422306  PMID: 22912874
8.  Effects of hypercapnia and NO synthase inhibition in sustained hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):7.
Background
Acute respiratory disorders may lead to sustained alveolar hypoxia with hypercapnia resulting in impaired pulmonary gas exchange. Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) optimizes gas exchange during local acute (0-30 min), as well as sustained (> 30 min) hypoxia by matching blood perfusion to alveolar ventilation. Hypercapnia with acidosis improves pulmonary gas exchange in repetitive conditions of acute hypoxia by potentiating HPV and preventing pulmonary endothelial dysfunction. This study investigated, if the beneficial effects of hypercapnia with acidosis are preserved during sustained hypoxia as it occurs, e.g in permissive hypercapnic ventilation in intensive care units. Furthermore, the effects of NO synthase inhibitors under such conditions were examined.
Method
We employed isolated perfused and ventilated rabbit lungs to determine the influence of hypercapnia with or without acidosis (pH corrected with sodium bicarbonate), and inhibitors of endothelial as well as inducible NO synthase on acute or sustained HPV (180 min) and endothelial permeability.
Results
In hypercapnic acidosis, HPV was intensified in sustained hypoxia, in contrast to hypercapnia without acidosis when HPV was amplified during both phases. L-NG-Nitroarginine (L-NNA), a non-selective NO synthase inhibitor, enhanced acute as well as sustained HPV under all conditions, however, the amplification of sustained HPV induced by hypercapnia with or without acidosis compared to normocapnia disappeared. In contrast 1400 W, a selective inhibitor of inducible NO synthase (iNOS), decreased HPV in normocapnia and hypercapnia without acidosis at late time points of sustained HPV and selectively reversed the amplification of sustained HPV during hypercapnia without acidosis. Hypoxic hypercapnia without acidosis increased capillary filtration coefficient (Kfc). This increase disappeared after administration of 1400 W.
Conclusion
Hypercapnia with and without acidosis increased HPV during conditions of sustained hypoxia. The increase of sustained HPV and endothelial permeability in hypoxic hypercapnia without acidosis was iNOS dependent.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-13-7
PMCID: PMC3306743  PMID: 22292558
hypoxia; hypercapnia; acidosis; nitric oxide; hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction
14.  Therapeutic efficacy of TBC3711 in monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):87.
Background
Endothelin-1 signalling plays an important role in pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension. Although different endothelin-A receptor antagonists are developed, a novel therapeutic option to cure the disease is still needed. This study aims to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of the selective endothelin-A receptor antagonist TBC3711 in monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension in rats.
Methods
Monocrotaline-injected male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized and treated orally from day 21 to 35 either with TBC3711 (Dose: 30 mg/kg body weight/day) or placebo. Echocardiographic measurements of different hemodynamic and right-heart hypertrophy parameters were performed. After day 35, rats were sacrificed for invasive hemodynamic and right-heart hypertrophy measurements. Additionally, histologic assessment of pulmonary vascular and right-heart remodelling was performed.
Results
The novel endothelin-A receptor antagonist TBC3711 significantly attenuated monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension, as evident from improved hemodynamics and right-heart hypertrophy in comparison with placebo group. In addition, muscularization and medial wall thickness of distal pulmonary vessels were ameliorated. The histologic evaluation of the right ventricle showed a significant reduction in fibrosis and cardiomyocyte size, suggesting an improvement in right-heart remodelling.
Conclusion
The results of this study suggest that the selective endothelin-A receptor antagonist TBC3711 demonstrates therapeutic benefit in rats with established pulmonary hypertension, thus representing a useful therapeutic approach for treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-87
PMCID: PMC3141422  PMID: 21699729
15.  Involvement of mast cells in monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension in rats 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):60.
Background
Mast cells (MCs) are implicated in inflammation and tissue remodeling. Accumulation of lung MCs is described in pulmonary hypertension (PH); however, whether MC degranulation and c-kit, a tyrosine kinase receptor critically involved in MC biology, contribute to the pathogenesis and progression of PH has not been fully explored.
Methods
Pulmonary MCs of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) patients and monocrotaline-injected rats (MCT-rats) were examined by histochemistry and morphometry. Effects of the specific c-kit inhibitor PLX and MC stabilizer cromolyn sodium salt (CSS) were investigated in MCT-rats both by the preventive and therapeutic approaches. Hemodynamic and right ventricular hypertrophy measurements, pulmonary vascular morphometry and analysis of pulmonary MC localization/counts/activation were performed in animal model studies.
Results
There was a prevalence of pulmonary MCs in IPAH patients and MCT-rats as compared to the donors and healthy rats, respectively. Notably, the perivascular MCs were increased and a majority of them were degranulated in lungs of IPAH patients and MCT-rats (p < 0.05 versus donor and control, respectively). In MCT-rats, the pharmacological inhibitions of MC degranulation and c-kit with CSS and PLX, respectively by a preventive approach (treatment from day 1 to 21 of MCT-injection) significantly attenuated right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) and right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH). Moreover, vascular remodeling, as evident from the significantly decreased muscularization and medial wall thickness of distal pulmonary vessels, was improved. However, treatments with CSS and PLX by a therapeutic approach (from day 21 to 35 of MCT-injection) neither improved hemodynamics and RVH nor vascular remodeling.
Conclusions
The accumulation and activation of perivascular MCs in the lungs are the histopathological features present in clinical (IPAH patients) and experimental (MCT-rats) PH. Moreover, the accumulation and activation of MCs in the lungs contribute to the development of PH in MCT-rats. Our findings reveal an important pathophysiological insight into the role of MCs in the pathogenesis of PH in MCT- rats.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-60
PMCID: PMC3104382  PMID: 21535881
16.  Imatinib in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Patients with Inadequate Response to Established Therapy 
Rationale: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive condition with a poor prognosis. Platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) signaling plays an important role in its pathobiology.
Objectives: To assess safety, tolerability, and efficacy of the PDGFR inhibitor imatinib in patients with PAH.
Methods: Patients with PAH in functional classes II–IV were enrolled in a 24-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Patients received imatinib (an inhibitor of PDGFR activity) 200 mg orally once daily (or placebo), which was increased to 400 mg if the initial dose was well tolerated. The primary endpoints were safety and change from baseline in the 6-minute-walk distance (6MWD). Secondary endpoints included hemodynamics and functional classification.
Measurements and Main Results: Fifty-nine patients enrolled (imatinib [n = 28]; placebo [n = 31]); 42 completed the study. Dropouts were equally matched between the two groups. In the intention-to-treat (ITT) population there was no significant change in the 6MWD (mean ± SD) in the imatinib versus placebo group (+22 ± 63 versus −1.0 ± 53 m). There was a significant decrease in pulmonary vascular resistance (imatinib −300 ± 347 versus placebo –78 ± 269 dynes · s · cm−5, P < 0.01) and increase in cardiac output (imatinib +0.6 ± 1.2 versus placebo −0.1 ± 0.9 L/min, P = 0.02). Serious adverse events occurred in 11 imatinib recipients (39%) and 7 placebo recipients (23%). Three deaths occurred in each group. Post hoc subgroup analyses suggest that patients with greater hemodynamic impairment may respond better than patients with less impairment.
Conclusions: These data from a Phase II study are consistent with imatinib being well tolerated in patients with PAH, and provide proof of concept for further studies evaluating its safety, tolerability, and efficacy in PAH.
Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00477269).
doi:10.1164/rccm.201001-0123OC
PMCID: PMC3001259  PMID: 20581169
pulmonary hypertension; imatinib; exercise; hemodynamics
17.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3beta Contributes to Proliferation of Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells in Pulmonary Hypertension 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18883.
Rationale
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
This study supports a central role for GSK3ß in vascular remodeling processes and suggests a novel therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of PAH.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018883
PMCID: PMC3078925  PMID: 21533110
18.  Phosphodiesterase 10A Upregulation Contributes to Pulmonary Vascular Remodeling 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18136.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018136
PMCID: PMC3073929  PMID: 21494592
19.  Air travel can be safe and well tolerated in patients with clinically stable pulmonary hypertension 
Pulmonary Circulation  2011;1(2):239-243.
Our aim was to determine what proportion of patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) has undertaken air travel contrary to the general medical advice and to characterize these patients according to disease severity and medical treatment. In cooperation with Pulmonale Hypertonie e.V., the German patient organization, a questionnaire was distributed. In total, 430 of 720 questionnaires were returned completed. Of the 179 patients who travelled at least once by air, the distribution of New York Heart Association functional classes I/ II/ III/ IV was 2/ 77/ 74/ 8, respectively; 83 patients were receiving monotherapy; 58 patients were receiving a combination of two or more therapies; 57 patients were on long-term ambulatory oxygen treatment; and 29 patients used supplemental oxygen while travelling. Overall, 20 adverse events were reported, mostly of mild to moderate severity (i.e., peripheral edema, dyspnea), with need of medical intervention in only 7 cases. The 251 patients who did not travel by air were, on average, in more advanced stages of disease and/or clinically unstable. In conclusion, a majority of patients (159 out of 179) did not experience any complications during or directly after the flight even though no special precautions were taken. Thus we conclude that for patients with PH in a stable clinical condition, air travel can be safe and well tolerated.
doi:10.4103/2045-8932.83451
PMCID: PMC3198644  PMID: 22034609
air travel; high altitude; hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction; pulmonary hypertension; safety
20.  Hypoxic pulmonary hypertension in mice with constitutively active platelet-derived growth factor receptor-β 
Pulmonary Circulation  2011;1(2):259-268.
Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) has been implicated in the pathobiology of vascular remodeling. The multikinase inhibitor imatinib that targets PDGF receptor (PDGFR), c-kit and Abl kinases, shows therapeutic efficacy against experimental pulmonary hypertension (PH); however, the role of PDGFR-b in experimental PH has not been examined by genetic approach. We investigated the chronic hypoxia-induced PH in mice carrying an activating point mutation of PDGFR-β (D849N) and evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of imatinib. In addition, we studied pulmonary global gene expression and confirmed the expression of identified genes by immunohistochemistry. Chronically hypoxic D849N mice developed PH and strong pulmonary vascular remodeling that was improved by imatinib (100 mg/kg/day) as evident from the significantly reduced right ventricular systolic pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy and muscularization of peripheral pulmonary arteries. Global gene expression analysis revealed that stromal cell derived factor SDF)-1α was significantly upregulated, which was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Moreover, an enhanced immunoreactivity for SDF-1α, PDGFR-β and CXCR4, the receptor for SDF-1α was localized to the α-smooth muscle cell (SMC) actin positive pulmonary vascular cells in hypoxic mice and patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). In conclusion, our findings substantiate the major role of PDGFR activation in pulmonary vascular remodeling by a genetic approach. Immunohistochemistry findings suggest a role for SDF-1α/CXCR4 axis in pulmonary vascular remodeling and point to a potential interaction between the chemokine SDF-1 and the growth factor PDGF signaling. Future studies designed to elucidate an interaction between the chemokine SDF-1 and the PDGF system may uncover novel therapeutic targets.
doi:10.4103/2045-8932.83448
PMCID: PMC3198653  PMID: 22034611
hypoxia; remodeling; PDGFR; SDF-1α; imatinib
21.  Diacylglycerol regulates acute hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction via TRPC6 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):20.
Background
Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) is an essential mechanism of the lung that matches blood perfusion to alveolar ventilation to optimize gas exchange. Recently we have demonstrated that acute but not sustained HPV is critically dependent on the classical transient receptor potential 6 (TRPC6) channel. However, the mechanism of TRPC6 activation during acute HPV remains elusive. We hypothesize that a diacylglycerol (DAG)-dependent activation of TRPC6 regulates acute HPV.
Methods
We investigated the effect of the DAG analog 1-oleoyl-2-acetyl-sn-glycerol (OAG) on normoxic vascular tone in isolated perfused and ventilated mouse lungs from TRPC6-deficient and wild-type mice. Moreover, the effects of OAG, the DAG kinase inhibitor R59949 and the phospholipase C inhibitor U73122 on the strength of HPV were investigated compared to those on non-hypoxia-induced vasoconstriction elicited by the thromboxane mimeticum U46619.
Results
OAG increased normoxic vascular tone in lungs from wild-type mice, but not in lungs from TRPC6-deficient mice. Under conditions of repetitive hypoxic ventilation, OAG as well as R59949 dose-dependently attenuated the strength of acute HPV whereas U46619-induced vasoconstrictions were not reduced. Like OAG, R59949 mimicked HPV, since it induced a dose-dependent vasoconstriction during normoxic ventilation. In contrast, U73122, a blocker of DAG synthesis, inhibited acute HPV whereas U73343, the inactive form of U73122, had no effect on HPV.
Conclusion
These findings support the conclusion that the TRPC6-dependency of acute HPV is induced via DAG.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-20
PMCID: PMC3042943  PMID: 21294865
22.  Phosphodiesterase 6 subunits are expressed and altered in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):146.
Background
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is an unresolved clinical issue. Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) are known therapeutic targets for various proliferative lung diseases. Lung PDE6 expression and function has received little or no attention. The present study aimed to characterize (i) PDE6 subunits expression in human lung, (ii) PDE6 subunits expression and alteration in IPF and (iii) functionality of the specific PDE6D subunit in alveolar epithelial cells (AECs).
Methodology/Principal Findings
PDE6 subunits expression in transplant donor (n = 6) and IPF (n = 6) lungs was demonstrated by real-time quantitative (q)RT-PCR and immunoblotting analysis. PDE6D mRNA and protein levels and PDE6G/H protein levels were significantly down-regulated in the IPF lungs. Immunohistochemical analysis showed alveolar epithelial localization of the PDE6 subunits. This was confirmed by qRT-PCR from human primary alveolar type (AT)II cells, demonstrating the down-regulation pattern of PDE6D in IPF-derived ATII cells. In vitro, PDE6D protein depletion was provoked by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 in A549 AECs. PDE6D siRNA-mediated knockdown and an ectopic expression of PDE6D modified the proliferation rate of A549 AECs. These effects were mediated by increased intracellular cGMP levels and decreased ERK phosphorylation.
Conclusions/Significance
Collectively, we report previously unrecognized PDE6 expression in human lungs, significant alterations of the PDE6D and PDE6G/H subunits in IPF lungs and characterize the functional role of PDE6D in AEC proliferation.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-11-146
PMCID: PMC2988012  PMID: 20979602
23.  Nebulization of the acidified sodium nitrite formulation attenuates acute hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):81.
Background
Generalized hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) occurring during exposure to hypoxia is a detrimental process resulting in an increase in lung vascular resistance. Nebulization of sodium nitrite has been shown to inhibit HPV. The aim of this project was to investigate and compare the effects of nebulization of nitrite and different formulations of acidified sodium nitrite on acute HPV.
Methods
Ex vivo isolated rabbit lungs perfused with erythrocytes in Krebs-Henseleit buffer (adjusted to 10% hematocrit) and in vivo anesthetized catheterized rabbits were challenged with periods of hypoxic ventilation alternating with periods of normoxic ventilation. After baseline hypoxic challenges, vehicle, sodium nitrite or acidified sodium nitrite was delivered via nebulization. In the ex vivo model, pulmonary arterial pressure and nitric oxide concentrations in exhaled gas were monitored. Nitrite and nitrite/nitrate were measured in samples of perfusion buffer. Pulmonary arterial pressure, systemic arterial pressure, cardiac output and blood gases were monitored in the in vivo model.
Results
In the ex vivo model, nitrite nebulization attenuated HPV and increased nitric oxide concentrations in exhaled gas and nitrite concentrations in the perfusate. The acidified forms of sodium nitrite induced higher levels of nitric oxide in exhaled gas and had longer vasodilating effects compared to nitrite alone. All nitrite formulations increased concentrations of circulating nitrite to the same degree. In the in vivo model, inhaled nitrite inhibited HPV, while pulmonary arterial pressure, cardiac output and blood gases were not affected. All nitrite formulations had similar potency to inhibit HPV. The tested concentration of appeared tolerable.
Conclusion
Nitrite alone and in acidified forms effectively and similarly attenuates HPV. However, acidified nitrite formulations induce a more pronounced increase in nitric oxide exhalation.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-11-81
PMCID: PMC2906446  PMID: 20565920
24.  Effects of phosphodiesterase 4 inhibition on bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice 
Background
Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a group of devastating and largely irreversible diseases. Phosphodiesterase (PDE) 4 is involved in the processes of remodeling and inflammation, which play key role in tissue fibrosis. The aim of the study was, therefore, to investigate the effect of PDE4 inhibition in experimental model of PF.
Methods
PF was induced in C57BL/6N mice by instillation of bleomycin. Pharmacological inhibition of PDE4 was achieved by using cilomilast, a selective PDE4 inhibitor. Changes in either lung inflammation or remodeling were evaluated at different stages of experimental PF. Lung inflammation was assessed by bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) differential cell count and reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) for inflammatory cytokines. Changes in tissue remodeling were evaluated by pulmonary compliance measurement, quantified pathological examination, measurement of collagen deposition and RT-qPCR for late remodeling markers. Survival in all groups was analyzed as well.
Results
PDE4 inhibition significantly reduced the total number of alveolar inflammatory cells in BALF of mice with bleomycin-induced PF at early fibrosis stage (days 4 and 7). Number of macrophages and lymphocytes, but not neutrophils, was significantly reduced as well. Treatment decreased lung tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α mRNA level and increased mRNA level of interleukin (IL)-6 but did not influence IL-1β. At later stage (days 14 and 24) cilomilast improved lung function, which was shown by increase in lung compliance. It also lowered fibrosis degree, as was shown by quantified pathological examination of Hematoxilin-Eosin stained lung sections. Cilomilast had no significant effect on the expression of late remodeling markers such as transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and collagen type Ia1 (COL(I)α1). However, it tended to restore the level of lung collagen, assessed by SIRCOL assay and Masson's trichrome staining, and to improve the overall survival.
Conclusions
Selective PDE4 inhibition suppresses early inflammatory stage and attenuates the late stage of experimental pulmonary fibrosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2466-10-26
PMCID: PMC2881047  PMID: 20444277
25.  Expression and Activity of Phosphodiesterase Isoforms during Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition: The Role of Phosphodiesterase 4 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(22):4751-4765.
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) has emerged as a critical event in the pathogenesis of organ fibrosis and cancer and is typically induced by the multifunctional cytokine transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the potential role of phosphodiesterases (PDEs) in TGF-β1-induced EMT in the human alveolar epithelial type II cell line A549. Stimulation of A549 with TGF-β1 induced EMT by morphological alterations and by expression changes of the epithelial phenotype markers E-cadherin, cytokeratin-18, zona occludens-1, and the mesenchymal phenotype markers, collagen I, fibronectin, and α-smooth muscle actin. Interestingly, TGF-β1 stimulation caused twofold increase in total cAMP-PDE activity, contributed mostly by PDE4. Furthermore, mRNA and protein expression demonstrated up-regulation of PDE4A and PDE4D isoforms in TGF-β1-stimulated cells. Most importantly, treatment of TGF-β1 stimulated epithelial cells with the PDE4-selective inhibitor rolipram or PDE4 small interfering RNA potently inhibited EMT changes in a Smad-independent manner by decreasing reactive oxygen species, p38, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase phosphorylation. In contrast, the ectopic overexpression of PDE4A and/or PDE4D resulted in a significant loss of epithelial marker E-cadherin but did not result in changes of mesenchymal markers. In addition, Rho kinase signaling activated by TGF-β1 during EMT demonstrated to be a positive regulator of PDE4. Collectively, the findings presented herein suggest that TGF-β1 mediated up-regulation of PDE4 promotes EMT in alveolar epithelial cells. Thus, targeting PDE4 isoforms may be a novel approach to attenuate EMT-associated lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E09-01-0019
PMCID: PMC2777105  PMID: 19759179

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