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1.  Protective Role of IL-6 in Vascular Remodeling in Schistosoma Pulmonary Hypertension 
Schistosomiasis is one of the most common causes of pulmonary arterial hypertension worldwide, but the pathogenic mechanism by which the host inflammatory response contributes to vascular remodeling is unknown. We sought to identify signaling pathways that play protective or pathogenic roles in experimental Schistosoma-induced pulmonary vascular disease via whole-lung transcriptome analysis. Wild-type mice were experimentally exposed to Schistosoma mansoni ova by intraperitoneal sensitization followed by tail-vein augmentation, and the phenotype was assessed by right ventricular catheterization and tissue histology, as well as RNA and protein analysis. Whole-lung transcriptome analysis by microarray and RNA sequencing was performed, and RNA sequencing was analyzed according to two bioinformatics methods. Functional testing of the candidate IL-6 pathway was determined using IL-6 knockout mice and the signal transducers and activators of transcription protein–3 (STAT3) inhibitor S3I-201. Wild-type mice exposed to S. mansoni demonstrated increased right ventricular systolic pressure and thickness of the pulmonary vascular media. Whole-lung transcriptome analysis determined that the IL-6–STAT3–nuclear factor of activated T cells c2(NFATc2) pathway was up-regulated, as confirmed by PCR and the immunostaining of lung tissue from S. mansoni–exposed mice and patients who died of the disease. Mice lacking IL-6 or treated with S3I-201 developed pulmonary hypertension, associated with significant intima remodeling after exposure to S. mansoni. Whole-lung transcriptome analysis identified the up-regulation of the IL-6–STAT3–NFATc2 pathway, and IL-6 signaling was found to be protective against Schistosoma-induced intimal remodeling.
PMCID: PMC3931110  PMID: 23815102
pulmonary hypertension; schistosomiasis; gene expression profiling; IL-6
2.  Updated Approach for the Assessment of Ventilator Associated Pneumonia 
Critical care medicine  2013;41(11):10.1097/CCM.0b013e3182a84be1.
PMCID: PMC3828199  PMID: 24162675
Pneumonia; Ventilator-Associated; Guidelines
3.  TGF-β Signaling Promotes Pulmonary Hypertension Caused by Schistosoma Mansoni 
Circulation  2013;128(12):10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.003072.
The pathogenic mechanisms underlying pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) due to schistosomiasis, one of the most common causes of pulmonary hypertension (PH) worldwide, remains unknown. We hypothesized that TGF-β signaling as a consequence of Th2 inflammation is critical for the pathogenesis of this disease.
Methods and Results
Mice sensitized and subsequently challenged with S. mansoni eggs developed PH associated with an increase in right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), thickening of the pulmonary artery media, and right ventricular hypertrophy. Rho-kinase dependent vasoconstriction accounted for about 60% of the increase in RVSP. The pulmonary vascular remodeling and PH were dependent on increased TGF-β signaling, as pharmacological blockade of the TGF-β ligand and receptor, and mice lacking Smad3 were significantly protected from Schistosoma-induced PH. Blockade of TGF-β signaling also led to a decrease in IL4 and IL13 concentrations, which drive the Th2 responses characteristic of schistosomiasis lung pathology. Lungs of patients with schistosomiasis-associated PAH have evidence of TGF-β signaling in their remodeled pulmonary arteries.
Experimental S. mansoni-induced pulmonary vascular disease relies on canonical TGF-β signaling.
PMCID: PMC3880024  PMID: 23958565
schistosomiasis; pulmonary hypertension; TGF-beta
4.  Role of vascular endothelial growth factor signaling in Schistosoma-induced experimental pulmonary hypertension 
Pulmonary Circulation  2014;4(2):289-299.
There is significant evidence that Th2 (T helper 2)-mediated inflammation supports the pathogenesis of both human and experimental animal models of pulmonary hypertension (PH). A key immune regulator is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is produced by Th2 inflammation and can itself contribute to Th2 pulmonary responses. In this study, we interrogated the role of VEGF signaling in a murine model of schistosomiasis-induced PH with a phenotype of significant intrapulmonary Th2 inflammation, vascular remodeling, and elevated right ventricular pressures. We found that VEGF receptor blockade partially suppressed the levels of the Th2 inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13 in both the lung and the liver after Schistosoma mansoni exposure and suppressed pulmonary vascular remodeling. These findings suggest that VEGF positively contributes to schistosomiasis-induced vascular inflammation and remodeling, and they also provide evidence for a VEGF-dependent signaling pathway necessary for pulmonary vascular remodeling and inflammation in this model.
PMCID: PMC4070790  PMID: 25006448
pulmonary hypertension; inflammation; VEGF; schistosomiasis
5.  Adventitial Fibroblasts induce a distinct Pro-inflammatory/Pro-fibrotic Macrophage Phenotype in Pulmonary Hypertension 
Macrophage accumulation is not only a characteristic hallmark but also a critical component of pulmonary artery (PA) remodeling associated with pulmonary hypertension (PH). However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms that drive vascular macrophage activation and their functional phenotype remain poorly defined. Utilizing multiple levels of in vivo (bovine and rat models of hypoxia-induced PH, together with human tissue samples) and in vitro (primary mouse, rat, and bovine macrophages, human monocytes, as well as primary human and bovine fibroblasts) approaches, we observed that adventitial fibroblasts derived from hypertensive Pas (bovine and human) regulate macrophage activation. These fibroblasts activate macrophages through paracrine IL6 and STAT3, HIF1, and C/EBPβ signaling to drive expression of genes previously implicated in chronic inflammation, tissue remodeling, and PH. This distinct fibroblast-activated macrophage phenotype was independent of IL4/IL13-STAT6 and TLR-MyD88 signaling. We found that genetic STAT3 haplodeficiency in macrophages attenuated macrophage activation while complete STAT3 deficiency increased macrophage activation through compensatory upregulation of STAT1 signaling, while deficiency in C/EBPβ or HIF1 attenuated fibroblast driven macrophage activation. These findings challenge the current paradigm of IL4/IL13-STAT6 mediated alternative macrophage activation as the sole driver of vascular remodeling in PH and uncover a crosstalk between adventitial fibroblasts and macrophages in which paracrine IL6 activated STAT3, HIF1, and C/EBPβ signaling is critical for macrophage activation and polarization. Thus, targeting IL6 signaling in macrophages by completely inhibiting C/EBPβ, HIF1a or partially inhibiting STAT3 may hold therapeutic value for treatment of PH and other inflammatory conditions characterized by increased IL6 and absent IL4/IL13 signaling.
PMCID: PMC4100597  PMID: 24928992
6.  Genetic and hypoxic alterations of the microRNA-210-ISCU1/2 axis promote iron–sulfur deficiency and pulmonary hypertension 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2015;7(6):695-713.
Iron–sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are essential for mitochondrial metabolism, but their regulation in pulmonary hypertension (PH) remains enigmatic. We demonstrate that alterations of the miR-210-ISCU1/2 axis cause Fe-S deficiencies in vivo and promote PH. In pulmonary vascular cells and particularly endothelium, hypoxic induction of miR-210 and repression of the miR-210 targets ISCU1/2 down-regulated Fe-S levels. In mouse and human vascular and endothelial tissue affected by PH, miR-210 was elevated accompanied by decreased ISCU1/2 and Fe-S integrity. In mice, miR-210 repressed ISCU1/2 and promoted PH. Mice deficient in miR-210, via genetic/pharmacologic means or via an endothelial-specific manner, displayed increased ISCU1/2 and were resistant to Fe-S-dependent pathophenotypes and PH. Similar to hypoxia or miR-210 overexpression, ISCU1/2 knockdown also promoted PH. Finally, cardiopulmonary exercise testing of a woman with homozygous ISCU mutations revealed exercise-induced pulmonary vascular dysfunction. Thus, driven by acquired (hypoxia) or genetic causes, the miR-210-ISCU1/2 regulatory axis is a pathogenic lynchpin causing Fe-S deficiency and PH. These findings carry broad translational implications for defining the metabolic origins of PH and potentially other metabolic diseases sharing similar underpinnings.
PMCID: PMC4459813  PMID: 25825391
endothelial; iron–sulfur; metabolism; microRNA; mitochondria
7.  Functional Prostacyclin Synthase Promoter Polymorphisms. Impact in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Rationale: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive disease characterized by elevated pulmonary artery pressure, vascular remodeling, and ultimately right ventricular heart failure. PAH can have a genetic component (heritable PAH), most often through mutations of bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2, and idiopathic and associated forms. Heritable PAH is not completely penetrant within families, with approximately 20% concurrence of inactivating bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2 mutations and delayed onset of PAH disease. Because one of the treatment options is using prostacyclin analogs, we hypothesized that prostacyclin synthase promoter sequence variants associated with increased mRNA expression may play a protective role in the bone morphogenetic protein receptor 2 unaffected carriers.
Objectives: To characterize the range of prostacyclin synthase promoter variants and assess their transcriptional activities in PAH-relevant cell types. To determine the distribution of prostacyclin synthase promoter variants in PAH, unaffected carriers in heritable PAH families, and control populations.
Methods: Polymerase chain reaction approaches were used to genotype prostacyclin synthase promoter variants in more than 300 individuals. Prostacyclin synthase promoter haplotypes’ transcriptional activities were determined with luciferase reporter assays.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified a comprehensive set of prostacyclin synthase promoter variants and tested their transcriptional activities in PAH-relevant cell types. We demonstrated differences of prostacyclin synthase promoter activities dependent on their haplotype.
Conclusions: Prostacyclin synthase promoter sequence variants exhibit a range of transcriptional activities. We discovered a significant bias for more active prostacyclin synthase promoter variants in unaffected carriers as compared with affected patients with PAH.
PMCID: PMC4098107  PMID: 24605778
lung diseases; pulmonary hypertension; genetic polymorphism; genetic predisposition to disease
8.  Significant intrapulmonary Schistosoma egg antigens are not present in schistosomiasis-associated pulmonary hypertension 
Pulmonary Circulation  2011;1(4):456-461.
Schistosomiasis-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is one of the most common causes of pulmonary hypertension worldwide. A potential contributing mechanism to the pathogenesis of this disease is a localized immune reaction to retained and persistent parasite-derived antigens. We sought to identify Schistosoma-derived egg antigens present in the lungs of individuals who died of the disease. We obtained 18 lung samples collected at autopsy from individuals who died of schistosomiasis-associated PAH in Brazil. A rabbit polyclonal antibody was created to known Schistosoma mansoni-soluble egg antigen (SEA). Histologic assessment and immunostaining of the human tissue was performed, along with immunostaining and immunoblotting of lung tissue from mice experimentally infected with S. mansoni. All 18 lung samples had evidence of pulmonary vascular remodeling with plexiform lesions and arterial medial thickening, but no visible eggs were seen. The anti-SEA antibody detected S. mansoni egg antigens in visible eggs in mouse lung and human intestine specimens, but did not identify a significant amount of egg antigen in the human lung specimens. In mouse granulomas containing degraded eggs, we observed colocalization of egg antigens and macrophage lysosomes. In conclusion, there is unlikely to be a significant amount of persistent parasite-derived antigens within the lungs of individuals who die of schistosomiasis-associated PAH. This suggests that retained and persistent parasite proteins are not contributing to a localized immune response in the pathogenesis of this disease.
PMCID: PMC3329075  PMID: 22530100
pulmonary arterial hypertension; pulmonary hypertension; schistosomiasis
9.  Schistosomiasis and the pulmonary vasculature (2013 Grover Conference series) 
Pulmonary Circulation  2014;4(3):353-362.
Inflammation is associated with multiple forms of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), including autoimmune (scleroderma) and infectious (HIV, schistosomiasis) etiologies. More than 200 million people worldwide are infected with Schistosoma, predominantly in Brazil, Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Schistosomiasis causes PAH in about 6.1% of those chronically infected and is particularly associated with the species Schistosoma mansoni. Treatment for schistosomiasis-associated PAH includes antihelminthic treatment, if active infection is present (although associated with little immediate benefit to the pulmonary hypertension), and then pharmacologic treatment with targeted pulmonary vascular therapies, including phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and endothelin receptor antagonists. The pathophysiological mechanism by which this parasitic infection causes pulmonary hypertension is unknown but is unlikely to be simple mechanical obstruction of the pulmonary vasculature by parasite eggs. Preexisting hepatosplenic disease due to Schistosoma infection is likely important because of portopulmonary hypertension and/or because it allows egg embolization to the lung by portocaval shunts. Potential immune signaling originating in the periegg granulomas causing the pulmonary vascular disease includes the cytokines interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-13, and transforming growth factor β. Modulating these pathways may be possible targets for future therapy of schistosomiasis-associated PAH specifically, and study of this disease may provide novel insights into other inflammatory causes of PAH.
PMCID: PMC4278594  PMID: 25621148
pulmonary hypertension; schistosomiasis; IL-13; TGF-β
10.  Systems-level regulation of microRNA networks by miR-130/301 promotes pulmonary hypertension 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(8):3514-3528.
Development of the vascular disease pulmonary hypertension (PH) involves disparate molecular pathways that span multiple cell types. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) may coordinately regulate PH progression, but the integrative functions of miRNAs in this process have been challenging to define with conventional approaches. Here, analysis of the molecular network architecture specific to PH predicted that the miR-130/301 family is a master regulator of cellular proliferation in PH via regulation of subordinate miRNA pathways with unexpected connections to one another. In validation of this model, diseased pulmonary vessels and plasma from mammalian models and human PH subjects exhibited upregulation of miR-130/301 expression. Evaluation of pulmonary arterial endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells revealed that miR-130/301 targeted PPARγ with distinct consequences. In endothelial cells, miR-130/301 modulated apelin-miR-424/503-FGF2 signaling, while in smooth muscle cells, miR-130/301 modulated STAT3-miR-204 signaling to promote PH-associated phenotypes. In murine models, induction of miR-130/301 promoted pathogenic PH-associated effects, while miR-130/301 inhibition prevented PH pathogenesis. Together, these results provide insight into the systems-level regulation of miRNA-disease gene networks in PH with broad implications for miRNA-based therapeutics in this disease. Furthermore, these findings provide critical validation for the evolving application of network theory to the discovery of the miRNA-based origins of PH and other diseases.
PMCID: PMC4109523  PMID: 24960162
11.  Deletion of Iron Regulatory Protein 1 Causes Polycythemia and Pulmonary Hypertension in Mice through Translational De-repression of HIF2α 
Cell metabolism  2013;17(2):271-281.
Iron regulatory proteins 1 and 2 (Irps) post-transcriptionally control the expression of transcripts that contain iron responsive element (IRE) sequences, including ferritin, ferroportin, transferrin receptor and hypoxia inducible factor 2α (HIF2α). We report here that mice with targeted deletion of Irp1 developed pulmonary hypertension and polycythemia that was exacerbated by a low iron diet. Hematocrits increased to 65% in iron-starved mice, and many polycythemic mice died of abdominal hemorrhages. Irp1 deletion enhanced HIF2α protein expression in kidneys of Irp1−/− mice, which led to increased erythropoietin (EPO) expression, polycythemia and concomitant tissue iron deficiency. Increased HIF2α expression in pulmonary endothelial cells induced high expression of endothelin-1, likely contributing to the pulmonary hypertension of Irp1−/− mice. Our results reveal why anemia is an early physiological consequence of iron deficiency, highlight the physiological significance of Irp1 in regulating erythropoiesis and iron distribution, and provide important insights into the molecular pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3569856  PMID: 23395173
12.  Fasting 2-Deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-d-glucose Positron Emission Tomography to Detect Metabolic Changes in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Hearts over 1 Year 
Background: The development of tools to monitor the right ventricle in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is of clinical importance. PAH is associated with pathologic expression of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, which induces glycolytic metabolism and mobilization of proangiogenic progenitor (CD34+CD133+) cells. We hypothesized that PAH cardiac myocytes have a HIF-related switch to glycolytic metabolism that can be detected with fasting 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-d-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and that glucose uptake is informative for cardiac function.
Methods: Six healthy control subjects and 14 patients with PAH underwent fasting FDG-PET and echocardiogram. Blood CD34+CD133+ cells and erythropoietin were measured as indicators of HIF activation. Twelve subjects in the PAH cohort underwent repeat studies 1 year later to determine if changes in FDG uptake were related to changes in echocardiographic parameters or to measures of HIF activation.
Measurements and Results: FDG uptake in the right ventricle was higher in patients with PAH than in healthy control subjects and correlated with echocardiographic measures of cardiac dysfunction and circulating CD34+CD133+ cells but not erythropoietin. Among patients with PAH, FDG uptake was lower in those receiving β-adrenergic receptor blockers. Changes in FDG uptake over time were related to changes in echocardiographic parameters and CD34+CD133+ cell numbers. Immunohistochemistry of explanted PAH hearts of patients undergoing transplantation revealed that HIF-1α was present in myocyte nuclei but was weakly detectable in control hearts.
Conclusions: PAH hearts have pathologic glycolytic metabolism that is quantitatively related to cardiac dysfunction over time, suggesting that metabolic imaging may be useful in therapeutic monitoring of patients.
PMCID: PMC3960991  PMID: 23509326
hypoxia-inducible factor 1; alpha subunit; positron emission tomography; fluorodeoxyglucose F18; right ventricle; heart failure
13.  Modern Age Pathology of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Rationale: The impact of modern treatments of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) on pulmonary vascular pathology remains unknown.
Objectives: To assess the spectrum of pulmonary vascular remodeling in the modern era of PAH medication.
Methods: Assessment of pulmonary vascular remodeling and inflammation in 62 PAH and 28 control explanted lungs systematically sampled.
Measurements and Main Results: Intima and intima plus media fractional thicknesses of pulmonary arteries were increased in the PAH group versus the control lungs and correlated with pulmonary hemodynamic measurements. Despite a high variability of morphological measurements within a given PAH lung and among all PAH lungs, distinct pathological subphenotypes were detected in cohorts of PAH lungs. These included a subset of lungs lacking intima or, most prominently, media remodeling, which had similar numbers of profiles of plexiform lesions as those in lungs with more pronounced remodeling. Marked perivascular inflammation was present in a high number of PAH lungs and correlated with intima plus media remodeling. The number of profiles of plexiform lesions was significantly lower in lungs of male patients and those never treated with prostacyclin or its analogs.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that multiple features of pulmonary vascular remodeling are present in patients treated with modern PAH therapies. Perivascular inflammation may have an important role in the processes of vascular remodeling, all of which may ultimately lead to increased pulmonary artery pressure. Moreover, our study provides a framework to interpret and design translational studies in PAH.
PMCID: PMC3886716  PMID: 22679007
pulmonary circulation; vessel remodeling; angiogenesis; inflammation
14.  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
15.  Targeting Energetic Metabolism 
This perspective highlights advances in the understanding of the role of cellular metabolism in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension. Insights gained in the past 20 years have revealed several similarities between the cellular processes underlying the pulmonary vascular remodeling in pulmonary hypertension and those seen in cancer processes. In line with these insights, there is increasing recognition that abnormal cellular metabolism, notably of aerobic glycolysis (the “Warburg effect”), the potential involvement of hypoxia-inducible factor in this process, and alterations in mitochondrial function, are key elements in the pathogenesis of this disease. The glycolytic shift may underlie the resistance to apoptosis and increased vascular cell proliferation, which are hallmarks of pulmonary hypertension. These investigations have led to novel approaches in the diagnosis and therapy of pulmonary hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3297113  PMID: 22077069
glycolytic shift; hypoxia-inducible factor; fatty acid oxidation; right ventricular hypertrophy; pulmonary hypertension
16.  Cigarette Smoke Triggers Code Red 
The article by Yao and coworkers in this issue (Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 2008;39:7–18) reveals that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21CIP1/WAF1/SDI1 (designated hereafter as p21), which has been linked to cell cycle growth arrest due to stress or danger cell responses, may modulate alveolar inflammation and alveolar destruction, and thus enlightens our present understanding of how the lung senses injury due to cigarette smoke and integrates these responses with those that activate inflammatory pathways potentially harmful to the lung (1). Furthermore, the interplay of p21 and cellular processes involving cell senescence and the imbalance of cell proliferation/apoptosis may provide us with a more logical explanation of how p21, acting as a sensor of cellular stress, might have such potent and wide roles in lung responses triggered by cigarette smoke. Molecular switches, ontologically designed for the protection of the host, are now hijacked by injurious stresses (such as cigarette smoke), leading to organ damage.
PMCID: PMC2720121  PMID: 18441278

Results 1-16 (16)