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2.  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.
PMCID: PMC3757830  PMID: 24015336
schistosomiasis; pulmonary hypertension; inflammation; experimental models
3.  Smoking: Is it a risk factor for pulmonary vascular diseases? 
Pulmonary Circulation  2012;2(4):395-396.
PMCID: PMC3555409  PMID: 23372923
4.  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.
PMCID: PMC3569588  PMID: 22923191
Lung cancer; Infection; Endotoxin; Tumor proliferation; Inflammation
5.  The Soluble Guanylate Cyclase Stimulator Riociguat Ameliorates Pulmonary Hypertension Induced by Hypoxia and SU5416 in Rats 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43433.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3422306  PMID: 22912874
6.  Effects of hypercapnia and NO synthase inhibition in sustained hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):7.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3306743  PMID: 22292558
hypoxia; hypercapnia; acidosis; nitric oxide; hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction
12.  Therapeutic efficacy of TBC3711 in monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):87.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3141422  PMID: 21699729
13.  Involvement of mast cells in monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension in rats 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):60.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3104382  PMID: 21535881
14.  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 (NCT00477269).
PMCID: PMC3001259  PMID: 20581169
pulmonary hypertension; imatinib; exercise; hemodynamics
15.  Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3beta Contributes to Proliferation of Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells in Pulmonary Hypertension 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18883.
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.
PMCID: PMC3078925  PMID: 21533110
16.  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.
PMCID: PMC3073929  PMID: 21494592
17.  Diacylglycerol regulates acute hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction via TRPC6 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):20.
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.
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.
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.
These findings support the conclusion that the TRPC6-dependency of acute HPV is induced via DAG.
PMCID: PMC3042943  PMID: 21294865
18.  Phosphodiesterase 6 subunits are expressed and altered in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):146.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2988012  PMID: 20979602
19.  Nebulization of the acidified sodium nitrite formulation attenuates acute hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):81.
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.
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.
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.
Nitrite alone and in acidified forms effectively and similarly attenuates HPV. However, acidified nitrite formulations induce a more pronounced increase in nitric oxide exhalation.
PMCID: PMC2906446  PMID: 20565920
20.  Effects of phosphodiesterase 4 inhibition on bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in mice 
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.
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.
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.
Selective PDE4 inhibition suppresses early inflammatory stage and attenuates the late stage of experimental pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2881047  PMID: 20444277
21.  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.
PMCID: PMC2777105  PMID: 19759179
22.  A Functional Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism in the TRPC6 Gene Promoter Associated With Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Circulation  2009;119(17):2313-2322.
Excessive proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) plays an important role in the development of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH), whereas a rise in cytosolic Ca2+ concentration triggers PASMC contraction and stimulates PASMC proliferation. Recently, we demonstrated that upregulation of the TRPC6 channel contributes to proliferation of PASMCs isolated from IPAH patients. This study sought to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TRPC6 gene promoter that are associated with IPAH and have functional significance in regulating TRPC6 activity in PASMCs.
Methods and Results
Genomic DNA was isolated from blood samples of 237 normal subjects and 268 IPAH patients. Three biallelic SNPs, −361 (A/T), −254(C/G), and −218 (C/T), were identified in the 2000-bp sequence upstream of the transcriptional start site of TRPC6. Although the allele frequencies of the −361 and −218 SNPs were not different between the groups, the allele frequency of the −254(C→G) SNP in IPAH patients (12%) was significantly higher than in normal subjects (6%; P<0.01). Genotype data showed that the percentage of −254G/G homozygotes in IPAH patients was 2.85 times that of normal subjects. Moreover, the −254(C→G) SNP creates a binding sequence for nuclear factor-κB. Functional analyses revealed that the −254(C→G) SNP enhanced nuclear factor-κB–mediated promoter activity and stimulated TRPC6 expression in PASMCs. Inhibition of nuclear factor-κB activity attenuated TRPC6 expression and decreased agonist-activated Ca2+ influx in PASMCs of IPAH patients harboring the −254G allele.
These results suggest that the −254(C→G) SNP may predispose individuals to an increased risk of IPAH by linking abnormal TRPC6 transcription to nuclear factor-κB, an inflammatory transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC2749566  PMID: 19380626
calcium; hypertension; pulmonary; ion channels; muscle, smooth; NF-kappa B
25.  Characterization of a murine model of monocrotaline pyrrole-induced acute lung injury 
New animal models of chronic pulmonary hypertension in mice are needed. The injection of monocrotaline is an established model of pulmonary hypertension in rats. The aim of this study was to establish a murine model of pulmonary hypertension by injection of the active metabolite, monocrotaline pyrrole.
Survival studies, computed tomographic scanning, histology, bronchoalveolar lavage were performed, and arterial blood gases and hemodynamics were measured in animals which received an intravenous injection of different doses of monocrotaline pyrrole.
Monocrotaline pyrrole induced pulmonary hypertension in Sprague Dawley rats. When injected into mice, monocrotaline pyrrole induced dose-dependant mortality in C57Bl6/N and BALB/c mice (dose range 6–15 mg/kg bodyweight). At a dose of 10 mg/kg bodyweight, mice developed a typical early-phase acute lung injury, characterized by lung edema, neutrophil influx, hypoxemia and reduced lung compliance. In the late phase, monocrotaline pyrrole injection resulted in limited lung fibrosis and no obvious pulmonary hypertension.
Monocrotaline and monocrotaline pyrrole pneumotoxicity substantially differs between the animal species.
PMCID: PMC2635347  PMID: 19087359

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