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1.  Differential Effects of Drugs Targeting Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) and Non-CSC Populations on Lung Primary Tumors and Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79798.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thought to be responsible for tumor initiation and recurrence after chemotherapy. Targeting CSCs and non-CSCs with specific compounds may be an effective approach to reduce lung cancer growth and metastasis. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of salinomycin, a selective inhibitor of CSCs, with or without combination with paclitaxel, in a metastatic model. To evaluate the effect of these drugs in metastasis and tumor microenvironment we took advantage of the immunocompetent and highly metastatic LLC mouse model. Aldefluor assays were used to analyze the ALDH+/− populations in murine LLC and human H460 and H1299 lung cancer cells. Salinomycin reduced the proportion of ALDH+ CSCs in LLC cells, whereas paclitaxel increased such population. The same effect was observed for the H460 and H1299 cell lines. Salinomycin reduced the tumorsphere formation capacity of LLC by more than 7-fold, but paclitaxel showed no effect. In in vivo experiments, paclitaxel reduced primary tumor volume but increased the number of metastatic nodules (p<0.05), whereas salinomycin had no effect on primary tumors but reduced lung metastasis (p<0.05). Combination of both drugs did not improve the effect of single therapies. ALDH1A1, SOX2, CXCR4 and SDF-1 mRNA levels were higher in metastatic lesions than in primary tumors, and were significantly elevated in both locations by paclitaxel treatment. On the contrary, such levels were reduced (or in some cases did not change) when mice were administered with salinomycin. The number of F4/80+ and CD11b+ cells was also reduced upon administration of both drugs, but particularly in metastasis. These results show that salinomycin targets ALDH+ lung CSCs, which has important therapeutic effects in vivo by reducing metastatic lesions. In contrast, paclitaxel (although reducing primary tumor growth) promotes the selection of ALDH+ cells that likely modify the lung microenvironment to foster metastasis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079798
PMCID: PMC3835894  PMID: 24278179
2.  Pivotal Role of Matrix Metalloproteinase 13 in Extracellular Matrix Turnover in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73279.
Rationale
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal disease characterized by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM).
Objectives
We investigated the regulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their inhibitors (TIMPs) in lung fibrosis.
Methods
MMP and TIMP expression, collagenolytic activity and collagen content was assessed in IPF (n=16) versus donor (n=6) lung homogenates and accomplished by in-situ-zymography for gelatinolytic and collagenolytic activities, combined with MMP antigen detection. Role of MMP13 was assessed employing the bleomycin model of lung fibrosis in MMP-13-/- versus wild-type mice.
Measurements and Main Results
In IPF, MMPs-1, 2, 7, 9 and 13, but not MMP-8, were significantly upregulated, whereas none of the TIMPs (1–4) were significantly altered. Collagen content was slightly increased and collagenolytic activity was most prominent in the airways and co-localized with MMP-13. We observed an exaggerated early inflammatory response and an augmented lung fibrosis in bleomycin-challenged MMP-13-/- versus wild-type mice, with elevated lung collagen content 28d after bleomycin challenge in the MMP-13-/- mice.
Conclusions
Our data suggest that i) collagen deposition in IPF lungs is not primarily due to excessive TIMP production, but rather due to overwhelming ECM production in face of an overall increased, but spatially imbalanced collagenolytic activity, ii) preferential distribution of collagenolytic activity, largely MMP-13, in the airways offers an explanation for the development of honeycomb cysts and iii) despite an overall increase in inflammatory cell content the presence of MMP-13 seems to limit the overall extent of ECM deposition in lung fibrosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073279
PMCID: PMC3759404  PMID: 24023851
4.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Oxidative Stress and Cardiovascular Disease: Lessons from Animal Studies 
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) diseases such as arterial hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. Based on human research, sympathetic activation, inflammation, and oxidative stress are thought to play major roles in the pathophysiology of OSA-related CV diseases. Animal models of OSA have shown that endothelial dysfunction, vascular remodelling, and systemic and pulmonary arterial hypertension as well as heart failure can develop in response to chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH). The available animal data are clearly in favour of oxidative stress playing a key role in the development of all of these CV manifestations of OSA. Presumably, the oxidative stress is due to an activation of NADPH oxidase and other free oxygen radicals producing enzymes within the CV system as evidenced by data from knockout mice and pharmacological interventions. It is hoped that animal models of OSA-related CV disease will continue to contribute to a deeper understanding of their underlying pathophysiology and will foster the way for the development of cardioprotective treatment options other than conventional CPAP therapy.
doi:10.1155/2013/234631
PMCID: PMC3603718  PMID: 23533685
5.  Macrophage-expressed IFN-β Contributes to Apoptotic Alveolar Epithelial Cell Injury in Severe Influenza Virus Pneumonia 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(2):e1003188.
Influenza viruses (IV) cause pneumonia in humans with progression to lung failure and fatal outcome. Dysregulated release of cytokines including type I interferons (IFNs) has been attributed a crucial role in immune-mediated pulmonary injury during severe IV infection. Using ex vivo and in vivo IV infection models, we demonstrate that alveolar macrophage (AM)-expressed IFN-β significantly contributes to IV-induced alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) injury by autocrine induction of the pro-apoptotic factor TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Of note, TRAIL was highly upregulated in and released from AM of patients with pandemic H1N1 IV-induced acute lung injury. Elucidating the cell-specific underlying signalling pathways revealed that IV infection induced IFN-β release in AM in a protein kinase R- (PKR-) and NF-κB-dependent way. Bone marrow chimeric mice lacking these signalling mediators in resident and lung-recruited AM and mice subjected to alveolar neutralization of IFN-β and TRAIL displayed reduced alveolar epithelial cell apoptosis and attenuated lung injury during severe IV pneumonia. Together, we demonstrate that macrophage-released type I IFNs, apart from their well-known anti-viral properties, contribute to IV-induced AEC damage and lung injury by autocrine induction of the pro-apoptotic factor TRAIL. Our data suggest that therapeutic targeting of the macrophage IFN-β-TRAIL axis might represent a promising strategy to attenuate IV-induced acute lung injury.
Author Summary
Acute lung injury induced by influenza virus (IV) infection has been linked to an unbalanced release of pro-inflammatory cytokines including type I interferons (IFN) causing immune-mediated organ damage. Using ex vivo and in vivo IV infection models, we demonstrate that alveolar macrophage-expressed IFN-β induces alveolar epithelial cell injury by autocrine induction of the pro-apoptotic TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Elucidating the cell-specific underlying signalling pathways revealed that IV-induced IFN-β release from alveolar macrophages (AM) strictly depended on protein kinase R- (PKR-) and NF-κB-signalling. Autocrine activation via the macrophage type I IFN receptor (IFNAR) resulted in increased expression and release of TRAIL which caused apoptosis of IV-infected and non-infected alveolar epithelial cells and promoted alveolar barrier dysfunction as demonstrated in ex vivo co-cultures and in bone marrow chimeric mouse models in vivo. Importantly, we found TRAIL highly upregulated in and released from AM of hospitalized patients with pandemic H1N1-induced lung failure. Therapeutic targeting of the macrophage IFN-β-TRAIL axis might therefore represent a promising strategy to attenuate IV-induced acute lung injury.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003188
PMCID: PMC3585175  PMID: 23468627
7.  E-cadherin Controls Bronchiolar Progenitor Cells and Onset of Preneoplastic Lesions in Mice12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2012;14(12):1164-1177.
Although progenitor cells of the conducting airway have been spatially localized and some insights have been gained regarding their molecular phenotype, relatively little is known about the mechanisms regulating their maintenance, activation, and differentiation. This study investigates the potential roles of E-cadherin in mouse Clara cells, as these cells were shown to represent the progenitor/stem cells of the conducting airways and have been implicated as the cell of origin of human non-small cell lung cancer. Postnatal inactivation of E-cadherin affected Clara cell differentiation and compromised airway regeneration under injury conditions. In steady-state adult lung, overexpression of the dominant negative E-cadherin led to an expansion of the bronchiolar stem cells and decreased differentiation concomitant with canonical Wnt signaling activation. Expansion of the bronchiolar stem cell pool was associated with an incessant proliferation of neuroepithelial body.associated Clara cells that ultimately gave rise to bronchiolar hyperplasia. Despite progressive hyperplasia, only a minority of the mice developed pulmonary solid tumors, suggesting that the loss of E-cadherin function leads to tumor formation when additional mutations are sustained. The present study reveals that E-cadherin plays a critical role in the regulation of proliferation and homeostasis of the epithelial cells lining the conducting airways.
PMCID: PMC3540942  PMID: 23308049
8.  Evolutionary Conserved Role of c-Jun-N-Terminal Kinase in CO2-Induced Epithelial Dysfunction 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46696.
Elevated CO2 levels (hypercapnia) occur in patients with respiratory diseases and impair alveolar epithelial integrity, in part, by inhibiting Na,K-ATPase function. Here, we examined the role of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in CO2 signaling in mammalian alveolar epithelial cells as well as in diptera, nematodes and rodent lungs. In alveolar epithelial cells, elevated CO2 levels rapidly induced activation of JNK leading to downregulation of Na,K-ATPase and alveolar epithelial dysfunction. Hypercapnia-induced activation of JNK required AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and protein kinase C-ζ leading to subsequent phosphorylation of JNK at Ser-129. Importantly, elevated CO2 levels also caused a rapid and prominent activation of JNK in Drosophila S2 cells and in C. elegans. Paralleling the results with mammalian epithelial cells, RNAi against Drosophila JNK fully prevented CO2-induced downregulation of Na,K-ATPase in Drosophila S2 cells. The importance and specificity of JNK CO2 signaling was additionally demonstrated by the ability of mutations in the C. elegans JNK homologs, jnk-1 and kgb-2 to partially rescue the hypercapnia-induced fertility defects but not the pharyngeal pumping defects. Together, these data provide evidence that deleterious effects of hypercapnia are mediated by JNK which plays an evolutionary conserved, specific role in CO2 signaling in mammals, diptera and nematodes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046696
PMCID: PMC3466313  PMID: 23056407
9.  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
10.  Alveolar epithelial cells orchestrate DC function in murine viral pneumonia 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(10):3652-3664.
Influenza viruses (IVs) cause pneumonia in humans with progression to lung failure. Pulmonary DCs are key players in the antiviral immune response, which is crucial to restore alveolar barrier function. The mechanisms of expansion and activation of pulmonary DC populations in lung infection remain widely elusive. Using mouse BM chimeric and cell-specific depletion approaches, we demonstrated that alveolar epithelial cell (AEC) GM-CSF mediates recovery from IV-induced injury by affecting lung DC function. Epithelial GM-CSF induced the recruitment of CD11b+ and monocyte-derived DCs. GM-CSF was also required for the presence of CD103+ DCs in the lung parenchyma at baseline and for their sufficient activation and migration to the draining mediastinal lymph nodes (MLNs) during IV infection. These activated CD103+ DCs were indispensable for sufficient clearance of IVs by CD8+ T cells and for recovery from IV-induced lung injury. Moreover, GM-CSF applied intratracheally activated CD103+ DCs, inducing increased migration to MLNs, enhanced viral clearance, and attenuated lung injury. Together, our data reveal that GM-CSF–dependent cross-talk between IV-infected AECs and CD103+ DCs is crucial for effective viral clearance and recovery from injury, which has potential implications for GM-CSF treatment in severe IV pneumonia.
doi:10.1172/JCI62139
PMCID: PMC3461909  PMID: 22996662
11.  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
12.  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
13.  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.  Expression of B-RAF V600E in Type II Pneumocytes Causes Abnormalities in Alveolar Formation, Airspace Enlargement and Tumor Formation in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29093.
Growth factor induced signaling cascades are key regulatory elements in tissue development, maintenance and regeneration. Perturbations of these cascades have severe consequences, leading to developmental disorders and neoplastic diseases. As a major function in signal transduction, activating mutations in RAF family kinases are the cause of human tumorigenesis, where B-RAF V600E has been identified as the prevalent mutant. In order to address the oncogenic function of B-RAF V600E, we have generated transgenic mice expressing the activated oncogene specifically in lung alveolar epithelial type II cells. Constitutive expression of B-RAF V600E caused abnormalities in alveolar epithelium formation that led to airspace enlargements. These lung lesions showed signs of tissue remodeling and were often associated with chronic inflammation and low incidence of lung tumors. The inflammatory cell infiltration did not precede the formation of the lung lesions but was rather accompanied with late tumor development. These data support a model where the continuous regenerative process initiated by oncogenic B-RAF-driven alveolar disruption provides a tumor-promoting environment associated with chronic inflammation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029093
PMCID: PMC3237599  PMID: 22194995
19.  Hemodynamic and clinical onset in patients with hereditary pulmonary arterial hypertension and BMPR2 mutations 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):99.
Background
Mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2 (BMPR2) gene can lead to idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). This study prospectively screened for BMPR2 mutations in a large cohort of PAH-patients and compared clinical features between BMPR2 mutation carriers and non-carriers.
Methods
Patients have been assessed by right heart catheterization and genetic testing. In all patients a detailed family history and pedigree analysis have been obtained. We compared age at diagnosis and hemodynamic parameters between carriers and non-carriers of BMPR2 mutations. In non-carriers with familial aggregation of PAH further genes/gene regions as the BMPR2 promoter region, the ACVRL1, Endoglin, and SMAD8 genes have been analysed.
Results
Of the 231 index patients 22 revealed a confirmed familial aggregation of the disease (HPAH), 209 patients had sporadic IPAH. In 49 patients (86.3% of patients with familial aggregation and 14.3% of sporadic IPAH) mutations of the BMPR2 gene have been identified. Twelve BMPR2 mutations and 3 unclassified sequence variants have not yet been described before. Mutation carriers were significantly younger at diagnosis than non-carriers (38.53 ± 12.38 vs. 45.78 ± 11.32 years, p < 0.001) and had a more severe hemodynamic compromise. No gene defects have been detected in 3 patients with HPAH.
Conclusion
This study identified in a large prospectively assessed cohort of PAH- patients new BMPR2 mutations, which have not been described before and confirmed previous findings that mutation carriers are younger at diagnosis with a more severe hemodynamic compromise. Thus, screening for BMPR2 mutations may be clinically useful.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-12-99
PMCID: PMC3163544  PMID: 21801371
20.  Epithelial Stress and Apoptosis Underlie Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome–associated Interstitial Pneumonia 
Rationale: The molecular mechanisms underlying Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome–associated interstitial pneumonia (HPSIP) are poorly understood but, as in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, may be linked to chronic alveolar epithelial type II cell (AECII) injury.
Objectives: We studied the development of fibrosis and the role of AECII injury in various murine models of HPS.
Methods: HPS1, HPS2, and HPS6 monomutant mice, and HPS1/2 and HPS1/6 double-mutant and genetic background mice, were killed at 3 and 9 months of age. Quantitative morphometry was undertaken in lung sections stained with hemalaun–eosin. The extent of lung fibrosis was assessed by trichrome staining and hydroxyproline measurement. Surfactant lipids were analyzed by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Surfactant proteins, apoptosis, and lysosomal and endoplasmic reticulum stress markers were studied by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Cell proliferation was measured by water-soluble tetrazolium salt-1 and bromodeoxyuridine assays.
Measurements and Main Results: Spontaneous and slowly progressive HPSIP was observed in HPS1/2 double mutants, but not in other HPS mutants, with subpleural onset at 3 months and full-blown fibrosis at 9 months. In these mice, extensive surfactant abnormalities were encountered in AECII and were paralleled by early lysosomal stress (cathepsin D induction), late endoplasmic reticulum stress (activating transcription factor-4 [ATF4], C/EBP homologous protein [CHOP] induction), and marked apoptosis. These findings were fully corroborated in human HPSIP. In addition, cathepsin D overexpression resulted in apoptosis of MLE-12 cells and increased proliferation of NIH 3T3 fibroblasts incubated with conditioned medium of the transfected cells.
Conclusions: Extensively impaired surfactant trafficking and secretion underlie lysosomal and endoplasmic reticulum stress with apoptosis of AECII in HPSIP, thereby causing the development of HPSIP.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200909-1414OC
PMCID: PMC2913235  PMID: 20378731
pulmonary surfactant; biogenesis of lysosome-related organelle complex; adaptor protein-3; apoptosis; cathepsin D
21.  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
22.  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
23.  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
24.  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
25.  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

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