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1.  Nox Family NADPH Oxidases in Mechano-Transduction: Mechanisms and Consequences 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2014;20(6):887-898.
Significance: The majority of cells in a multi-cellular organism are continuously exposed to ever-changing physical forces. Mechano-transduction links these events to appropriate reactions of the cells involving stimulation of signaling cascades, reorganization of the cytoskeleton and alteration of gene expression. Recent Advances: Mechano-transduction alters the cellular redox balance and the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nicotine amide adenine dinucleotide reduced form (NADPH) oxidases of the Nox family are prominent ROS generators and thus, contribute to this stress-induced ROS formation. Critical Issues: Different types and patterns of mechano-stress lead to Nox-dependent ROS formation and Nox-mediated ROS formation contributes to cellular responses and adaptation to physical forces. Thereby, Nox enzymes can mediate vascular protection during physiological mechano-stress. Despite this, over-activation and induction of Nox enzymes and a subsequent substantial increase in ROS formation also promotes oxidative stress in pathological situations like disturbed blood flow or extensive stretch. Future Directions: Individual protein targets of Nox-mediated redox-signaling will be identified to better understand the specificity of Nox-dependent ROS signaling in mechano-transduction. Nox-inhibitors will be tested to reduce cellular activation in response to mechano-stimuli. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 20, 887–898.
PMCID: PMC3924808  PMID: 23682993
2.  Functional and Muscular Adaptations in an Experimental Model for Isometric Strength Training in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79069.
Exercise training induces muscular adaptations that are highly specific to the type of exercise. For a systematic study of the differentiated exercise adaptations on a molecular level mouse models have been used successfully. The aim of the current study was to develop a suitable mouse model of isometric strength exercise training characterized by specific adaptations known from strength training. C57BL/6 mice performed an isometric strength training (ST) for 10 weeks 5 days/week. Additionally, either a sedentary control group (CT) or a regular endurance training group (ET) groups were used as controls. Performance capacity was determined by maximum holding time (MHT) and treadmill spirometry, respectively. Furthermore, muscle fiber types and diameter, muscular concentration of phosphofructokinase 1 (PFK), succinate dehydrogenase (SDHa), and glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT4) were determined. In a further approach, the effect of ST on glucose intolerance was tested in diabetic mice. In mice of the ST group we observed an increase of MHT in isometric strength tests, a type II fiber hypertrophy, and an increased GLUT4 protein content in the membrane fraction. In contrast, in mice of the ET group an increase of VO2max, a shift to oxidative muscle fiber type and an increase of oxidative enzyme content was measured. Furthermore strength training was effective in reducing glucose intolerance in mice fed a high fat diet. An effective murine strength training model was developed and evaluated, which revealed marked differences in adaptations known from endurance training. This approach seems also suitable to test for therapeutical effects of strength training.
PMCID: PMC3827300  PMID: 24236089
3.  Sestrin-2, a repressor of PDGFRβ signalling, promotes cigarette-smoke-induced pulmonary emphysema in mice and is upregulated in individuals with COPD 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2013;6(6):1378-1387.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. COPD is caused by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke and/or other environmental pollutants that are believed to induce reactive oxygen species (ROS) that gradually disrupt signalling pathways responsible for maintaining lung integrity. Here we identify the antioxidant protein sestrin-2 (SESN2) as a repressor of PDGFRβ signalling, and PDGFRβ signalling as an upstream regulator of alveolar maintenance programmes. In mice, the mutational inactivation of Sesn2 prevents the development of cigarette-smoke-induced pulmonary emphysema by upregulating PDGFRβ expression via a selective accumulation of intracellular superoxide anions (O2−). We also show that SESN2 is overexpressed and PDGFRβ downregulated in the emphysematous lungs of individuals with COPD and to a lesser extent in human lungs of habitual smokers without COPD, implicating a negative SESN2-PDGFRβ interrelationship in the pathogenesis of COPD. Taken together, our results imply that SESN2 could serve as both a biomarker and as a drug target in the clinical management of COPD.
PMCID: PMC3820261  PMID: 24046361
4.  NADPH oxidase 4 limits bone mass by promoting osteoclastogenesis 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(11):4731-4738.
ROS are implicated in bone diseases. NADPH oxidase 4 (NOX4), a constitutively active enzymatic source of ROS, may contribute to the development of such disorders. Therefore, we studied the role of NOX4 in bone homeostasis. Nox4–/– mice displayed higher bone density and reduced numbers and markers of osteoclasts. Ex vivo, differentiation of monocytes into osteoclasts with RANKL and M-CSF induced Nox4 expression. Loss of NOX4 activity attenuated osteoclastogenesis, which was accompanied by impaired activation of RANKL-induced NFATc1 and c-JUN. In an in vivo model of murine ovariectomy–induced osteoporosis, pharmacological inhibition or acute genetic knockdown of Nox4 mitigated loss of trabecular bone. Human bone obtained from patients with increased osteoclast activity exhibited increased NOX4 expression. Moreover, a SNP of NOX4 was associated with elevated circulating markers of bone turnover and reduced bone density in women. Thus, NOX4 is involved in bone loss and represents a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC3809780  PMID: 24216508
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC3603718  PMID: 23533685
7.  Oxygen-dependent expression of cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4-2 gene expression is mediated by transcription factors RBPJ, CXXC5 and CHCHD2 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(4):2255-2266.
Cytochrome c oxidase (COX) is the terminal enzyme of the electron transport chain, made up of 13 subunits encoded by both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Subunit 4 (COX4), a key regulatory subunit, exists as two isoforms, the ubiquitous isoform 1 and the tissue-specific (predominantly lung) isoform 2 (COX4I2). COX4I2 renders lung COX about 2-fold more active compared with liver COX, which lacks COX4I2. We previously identified a highly conserved 13-bp sequence in the proximal promoter of COX4I2 that functions as an oxygen responsive element (ORE), maximally active at a 4% oxygen concentration. Here, we have identified three transcription factors that bind this conserved ORE, namely recombination signal sequence–binding protein Jκ (RBPJ), coiled-coil-helix-coiled-coil-helix domain 2 (CHCHD2) and CXXC finger protein 5 (CXXC5). We demonstrate that RBPJ and CHCHD2 function towards activating the ORE at 4% oxygen, whereas CXXC5 functions as an inhibitor. To validate results derived from cultured cells, we show using RNA interference a similar effect of these transcription factors in the gene regulation of COX4I2 in primary pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells. Depending on the oxygen tension, a concerted action of the three transcription factors regulates the expression of COX4I2 that, as we discuss, could augment both COX activity and its ability to cope with altered cellular energy requirements.
PMCID: PMC3575822  PMID: 23303788
8.  Smoking: Is it a risk factor for pulmonary vascular diseases? 
Pulmonary Circulation  2012;2(4):395-396.
PMCID: PMC3555409  PMID: 23372923
9.  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
10.  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
15.  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
16.  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
17.  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
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.
PMCID: PMC3073929  PMID: 21494592
19.  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.
PMCID: PMC3198653  PMID: 22034611
hypoxia; remodeling; PDGFR; SDF-1α; imatinib
20.  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
21.  Hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension: comparison of soluble epoxide hydrolase deletion vs. inhibition 
Cardiovascular Research  2009;85(1):232-240.
The C-terminal domain of the soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) metabolizes epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs) to their less active diols, while the N-terminal domain demonstrates lipid phosphatase activity. As EETs are potent vasoconstrictors in the pulmonary circulation, we assessed the development of pulmonary hypertension induced by exposure to hypoxia (10% O2) for 21 days in wild-type (WT) and sEH−/− mice and compared the effects with chronic (4 months) sEH inhibition.
Methods and results
In isolated lungs from WT mice, acute hypoxic vasoconstriction (HPV) was potentiated by sEH inhibition and attenuated by an EET antagonist. After prolonged hypoxia, the acute HPV and sensitivity to the EET antagonist were increased, but potentiation of vasoconstriction following sEH inhibition was not evident. Chronic hypoxia also stimulated the muscularization of pulmonary arteries and decreased sEH expression in WT mice. In normoxic sEH−/− mice, acute HPV and small artery muscularization were greater than that in WT lungs and enhanced muscularization was accompanied with decreased voluntary exercise capacity. Acute HPV in sEH−/− mice was insensitive to sEH inhibition but inhibited by the EET antagonist and chronic hypoxia induced an exaggerated pulmonary vascular remodelling. In WT mice, chronic sEH inhibition increased serum EET levels but failed to affect acute HPV, right ventricle weight, pulmonary artery muscularization, or voluntary running distance. In human donor lungs, the sEH was expressed in the wall of pulmonary arteries, however, sEH expression was absent in samples from patients with pulmonary hypertension.
These data suggest that a decrease in sEH expression is intimately linked to pathophysiology of hypoxia-induced pulmonary remodelling and hypertension. However, as sEH inhibitors do not promote the development of pulmonary hypertension it seems likely that the N-terminal lipid phosphatase may play a role in the development of this disease.
PMCID: PMC2860707  PMID: 19679679
Cytochrome P450; Epoxyeicosatrienoic acid; Hypoxia; Pulmonary hypertension; Soluble epoxide hydrolase
22.  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
23.  Post-Stroke Inhibition of Induced NADPH Oxidase Type 4 Prevents Oxidative Stress and Neurodegeneration 
PLoS Biology  2010;8(9):e1000479.
The identification of NOX4 as a major source of oxidative stress in stroke and demonstration of dramatic protection after stroke in mice by NOX4 deletion or NOX inhibition, opens up new avenues for treatment.
Ischemic stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Only one moderately effective therapy exists, albeit with contraindications that exclude 90% of the patients. This medical need contrasts with a high failure rate of more than 1,000 pre-clinical drug candidates for stroke therapies. Thus, there is a need for translatable mechanisms of neuroprotection and more rigid thresholds of relevance in pre-clinical stroke models. One such candidate mechanism is oxidative stress. However, antioxidant approaches have failed in clinical trials, and the significant sources of oxidative stress in stroke are unknown. We here identify NADPH oxidase type 4 (NOX4) as a major source of oxidative stress and an effective therapeutic target in acute stroke. Upon ischemia, NOX4 was induced in human and mouse brain. Mice deficient in NOX4 (Nox4−/−) of either sex, but not those deficient for NOX1 or NOX2, were largely protected from oxidative stress, blood-brain-barrier leakage, and neuronal apoptosis, after both transient and permanent cerebral ischemia. This effect was independent of age, as elderly mice were equally protected. Restoration of oxidative stress reversed the stroke-protective phenotype in Nox4−/− mice. Application of the only validated low-molecular-weight pharmacological NADPH oxidase inhibitor, VAS2870, several hours after ischemia was as protective as deleting NOX4. The extent of neuroprotection was exceptional, resulting in significantly improved long-term neurological functions and reduced mortality. NOX4 therefore represents a major source of oxidative stress and novel class of drug target for stroke therapy.
Author Summary
Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Today, only one approved therapy exists—a drug that breaks down blood clots—the effectiveness of which is moderate, and it can only be used in about 10% of patients because of contraindications. New therapeutic strategies that are translatable to humans and more rigid thresholds of relevance in pre-clinical stroke models are needed. One candidate mechanism is oxidative stress, which is the damage caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Antioxidant approaches that specifically target ROS have thus far failed in clinical trials. For a more effective approach, we focus here on targeting ROS at its source by investigating an enzyme involved in generating ROS, known as NADPH oxidase type 4, or NOX4. We found that NOX4 causes oxidative stress and death of nerve cells after a stroke. Deletion of the NOX4-coding gene in mice, as well as inhibiting the ROS-generating activity of NOX with a pharmacological inhibitor, reduces brain damage and improves neurological function, even when given hours after a stroke. Importantly, neuroprotection was preserved in old male and female Nox4−/− mice as well as in Nox4−/− mice subjected to permanent ischemia. NOX4 thus represents a most promising new therapeutic target for reducing oxidative stress in general, and in brain injury due to stroke in particular.
PMCID: PMC2943442  PMID: 20877715
24.  Cellular and Molecular Basis of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is caused by functional and structural changes in the pulmonary vasculature, leading to increased pulmonary vascular resistance. The process of pulmonary vascular remodeling is accompanied by endothelial dysfunction, activation of fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells, crosstalk between cells within the vascular wall, and recruitment of circulating progenitor cells. Recent findings have reestablished the role of chronic vasoconstriction in the remodeling process. Although the pathology of PAH in the lung is well known, this article is concerned with the cellular and molecular processes involved. In particular we focus on the role of the Rho family guanosine triphosphatases in endothelial function and vasoconstriction. The crosstalk between endothelium and vascular smooth muscle is explored in the context of mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein type II receptor, alterations in angiopoietin-1/TIE2 signaling and the serotonin pathway. We also review the role of voltage-gated K+ (Kv) channels and transient receptor potential channels in the regulation of cytosolic [Ca2+] and [K+], vasoconstriction, proliferation and cell survival. We highlight the importance of the extracellular matrix as an active regulator of cell behavior and phenotype and evaluate the contribution of the glycoprotein tenascin-c as a key mediator of smooth muscle cell growth and survival. Finally, we discuss the origins of a cell type critical to the process of pulmonary vascular remodeling, the myofibroblast, and review the evidence supporting a contribution for the involvement of endothelial-mesenchymal transition and recruitment of circulating mesenchymal progenitor cells.
PMCID: PMC2790324  PMID: 19555855
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension; Cellular; Molecular Basis
25.  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

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