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1.  Relevant Issues in the Pathology and Pathobiology of Pulmonary Hypertension 
Knowledge of the pathobiology of pulmonary hypertension continues to accelerate. However, fundamental gaps remain in our understanding of the underlying pathological changes in pulmonary arteries and veins in the different forms of this syndrome. Although pulmonary hypertension primarily affects the arteries, venous disease is increasingly recognized as an important entity. Moreover, prognosis in pulmonary hypertension is determined largely by the status of the right ventricle, rather than the levels of pulmonary artery pressures. It is increasingly clear that while vasospasm plays a role, pulmonary hypertension is an obstructive lung panvasculopathy. Disordered metabolism and mitochondrial structure, inflammation, and dysregulation of growth factors lead to a proliferative, apoptosis-resistant state. These abnormalities may be acquired, genetically mediated as a result of mutations in bone morphogenetic protein receptor (BMPR)2 or activin-like kinase (Alk)-1 or epigenetically-inherited (as a result of epigenetic silencing of genes such as superoxide dismutase 2). There is a pressing need to better understand how the pathobiology leads to severe disease in some patients versus mild pulmonary hypertension in others. Recent recognition of a potential role of acquired abnormalities of mitochondrial metabolism in the right ventricular myocytes and pulmonary vascular cells suggests new therapeutic approaches, diagnostic modalities, and biomarkers. Finally, dissection of role of pulmonary inflammation in the initiation and promotion of pulmonary hypertension has revealed a complex yet fascinating interplay with pulmonary vascular remodeling, promising to lead to novel therapeutics and diagnostics. Emerging concepts are also relevant to the pathobiology of pulmonary hypertension, including a role for bone marrow and circulating progenitor cells and microRNAs. Continued interest in the interface of the genetic basis of pulmonary hypertension and cellular and molecular pathogenetic links should expand further our understanding of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3970402  PMID: 24355640
inflammation; metabolism; pulmonary arteries; pulmonary veins
2.  Rtp801, a suppressor of mTOR signaling, is an essential mediator of cigarette smoke – induced pulmonary injury and emphysema 
Nature medicine  2010;16(7):767-773.
Rtp801, a stress – related protein triggered by adverse environmental conditions, inhibits mTOR and enhances oxidative stress – dependent cell death. We postulated that Rtp801 acts as potential amplifying switch in the development of cigarette smoke – induced lung injury, leading to emphysema. Rtp801 was overexpressed in human emphysematous lungs and in lungs of mice exposed to cigarette smoke. The upregulation of Rtp801 expression by cigarette smoke in the lung relied on oxidative stress – dependent activation of the CCAAT response element. Rtp801 was necessary and sufficient for NF – κ B activation in cultured cells and, when forcefully expressed in mouse lungs, it promoted NF – kB activation, alveolar inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis of alveolar septal cells. On the other hand, Rtp801 − / − mice were markedly protected against acute cigarette smoke – induced lung injury, partly via increased mTOR signaling, and, when exposed chronically, against emphysema. Our data support the notion that Rtp801 may represent an important molecular sensor and mediator of lung injury to cigarette smoke.
PMCID: PMC3956129  PMID: 20473305
Rtp801; cigarette smoke; oxidative stress; apoptosis; inflammation; NF –κB; rapamycin
3.  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
4.  Senescence in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
There is a growing realization that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease involves several processes present in aging and cellular senescence. The impact of these processes in the pathogenesis of the main manifestations is multiple, particularly in the propagation of a proinflammatory phenotype, loss of reparative potential, and amplification of oxidative stress, all ultimately leading to tissue damage. This review highlights salient aspects related to senescence discussed in the 2011 Aspen Lung Conference.
PMCID: PMC3359109  PMID: 22550244
aging; senescence; oxidative stress; inflammation
5.  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
6.  Pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(8):2749-2755.
The current epidemic of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has produced a worldwide health care burden, approaching that imposed by transmittable infectious diseases. COPD is a multidimensional disease, with varied intermediate and clinical phenotypes. This Review discusses the pathogenesis of COPD, with particular focus on emphysema, based on the concept that pulmonary injury involves stages of initiation (by exposure to cigarette smoke, pollutants, and infectious agents), progression, and consolidation. Tissue damage entails complex interactions among oxidative stress, inflammation, extracellular matrix proteolysis, and apoptotic and autophagic cell death. Lung damage by cigarette smoke ultimately leads to self-propagating processes, resulting in macromolecular and structural alterations — features similar to those seen in aging.
PMCID: PMC3408733  PMID: 22850885
7.  Stress Responses Affecting Homeostasis of the Alveolar Capillary Unit 
The maintenance of the alveolar structure is required throughout life. To accomplish this goal, alveolar cells, including endothelial, epithelial, and fibroblastic cells, provide key molecules with broad survival and antiapoptotic effects. These complex interactions are disrupted by cigarette smoke, leading to emphysema. Smoke imposes an environmental stress to the lung with the activation of “sensor-like” molecular signaling. Activation of RTP801, leading to mTOR inhibition, is paradigmatic of these responses. The accumulation of cellular damage, with the generation of endogenous mediators of inflammation, may proceed toward an aging phenotype. These alterations may impose significant challenges to cell-based regenerative or pharmacological therapies.
PMCID: PMC3359075  PMID: 22052924
alveolus; emphysema; cigarette smoke; COPD; mTOR
8.  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
9.  Lung Disease Associated with α1-Antitrypsin Deficiency 
α1-Antitrypsin (A1AT) is a polyvalent, acute-phase reactant with an extensive range of biological functions that go beyond those usually linked to its antiprotease (serpin) activities. Genetic mutations cause a systemic deficiency of A1AT, leading to liver and pulmonary diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The pathogenesis of emphysema, which involves the destruction of small airway structures and alveolar units, is triggered by cigarette smoke and pollutants. The tissue damage caused by these agents is further potentiated by the mutual interactions between apoptosis, oxidative stress, and protease/antiprotease imbalance. These processes lead to the activation of endogenous mediators of tissue destruction, including the lipid ceramide, extracellular matrix proteins, and abnormal inflammatory cell signaling. In this review, we propose that A1AT has a range of actions that are not restricted to protease inhibition but rather extend to mitigate a range of these pathological processes involved in the development of emphysema. We discuss the evidence indicating that A1AT blocks apoptosis by binding and inhibiting active caspase-3 and modulates a broad range of inflammatory responses induced by neutrophils and by lipopolyssacharide and tumor necrosis factor-α signaling.
PMCID: PMC3136958  PMID: 21030517
COPD; apoptosis; inflammation; proteinase inhibitor; serpin
10.  Genomics of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Implications for Therapy 
Heart failure clinics  2010;6(1):101-114.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension remains a vexing clinical disease with no cure. Despite advances and the discovery of a gene (BMPR2) associated with many of the hereditary forms of the disease, and some cases not previously known to be inherited, the reasons for mutations in this gene as a cause remain somewhat elusive. Clearly, a complex interplay exists between genetic alterations, environmental exposures (including infections) and disease development. This article addresses the advances in the genetics of PAH, including the identification of genetic etiologies and modulators, and the role of genetics in predicting disease progression and targeting therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC2786817  PMID: 19945066
Pulmonary Hypertension; Genetics; Genomics; Gene expression; Microarray
11.  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
12.  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
13.  It takes two to tango: cigarette smoke partners with viruses to promote emphysema 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2008;118(8):2689-2693.
Viruses constitute a constant and renewed threat to humans. Not only do viruses cause disease directly due to their tissue tropism and pathogenicity, but they have also been linked to autoimmunity. In their study in this issue of the JCI, Kang et al. show that exposure to cigarette smoke induces alterations in the innate immune response to viral infection and that these changes hasten alveolar destruction characteristic of emphysema in mice (see the related beginning on page 2771). This study builds on evidence that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have clinical exacerbations associated with viral or bacterial infections, which lead to worsened lung function and increased mortality. This novel paradigm may aid related genetic, biomarker, and therapeutic developments and provides important insights into the pathogenesis of emphysematous lung destruction.
PMCID: PMC2483690  PMID: 18654673
14.  mTORC2 coordinates pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell metabolism, proliferation and survival in pulmonary arterial hypertension 
Circulation  2013;129(8):864-874.
Enhanced proliferation, resistance to apoptosis and metabolic shift to glycolysis of pulmonary arterial vascular smooth muscle cells (PAVSMC) are key pathophysiological components of pulmonary vascular remodeling in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). The role of distinct mTOR complexes mTORC1 (mTOR-raptor) and mTORC2 (mTOR-rictor) in PAVSMC proliferation and survival in PAH and their therapeutic relevance is unknown.
Methods and Results
Immunohistochemical and immunoblot analyses revealed that mTORC1 and mTORC2 pathways are markedly up-regulated in small remodeled PAs and isolated distal PAVSMC from IPAH subjects that have increased ATP levels, proliferation and survival that depend on glycolytic metabolism. siRNA- and pharmacological-based analysis showed that while both mTORC1 and mTORC2 contributing to proliferation, only mTORC2 is required for ATP generation and survival of IPAH PAVSMC. mTORC2 down-regulated energy sensor AMPK allowing activation of mTORC1-S6 and increased proliferation, and deficiency of pro-apoptotic protein Bim and IPAH PAVSMC survival. Nox4 protein levels were increased in IPAH PAVSMC that was necessary for mTORC2 activation, proliferation and survival. Nox4 levels and mTORC2 signaling were significantly up-regulated in small PAs from hypoxia-exposed rats at days 2-28 of hypoxia. Treatment with the mTOR kinase inhibitor PP242 at days 15-28 suppressed mTORC2, but not Nox4, induced SM-specific apoptosis in small PAs and reversed hypoxia-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling in rats.
These data provide a novel mechanistic link of Nox4-dependent activation of mTORC2 via energy sensor AMPK to increased proliferation and survival of PAVSMC in PAH suggesting a new potential pathway for the therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3968690  PMID: 24270265
mTORC2; AMPK; IPAH; pulmonary vascular remodeling; energy metabolism; pulmonary vascular changes; proliferation; vascular smooth muscle; signal transduction
15.  Role of Lung Maintenance Program in the Heterogeneity of Lung Destruction in Emphysema 
Centrilobular emphysema caused by chronic cigarette smoking is a heterogeneous disease with a predominance of upper lobe involvement. It is presumed that this heterogeneity indicates a particular susceptibility to cigarette smoke or the fact that the inhaled smoke distributes preferentially to upper lung zones. The less involved areas might therefore retain the capacity for lung regeneration and gain of pulmonary function in terminally ill patients. We propose that the interplay between molecular and cellular switches involved in the lung response to environmental injuries determines the heterogeneous pattern of emphysema due to cigarette smoke. Regional activation of alveolar destruction by apoptosis and oxidative stress coupled with regional failure of defense mechanisms may account for the irregular pattern of lung destruction in cigarette smoke–induced emphysema. Protection afforded by the key antioxidant transcription factor Nrf-2 and the antiproteolytic and antiapoptotic actions of α1-antitrypsin is central to maintain lung homeostasis and lung structure. As the lung is injured by environmental pollutants, including cigarette smoke, molecular sensors of cellular stress, such as the mTOR/protein translation regulator RTP-801, may engage both inflammation and alveolar cell apoptosis. As injury prevails during the course of this chronic disease, it leads to a more homogeneous pattern of lung disease.
PMCID: PMC2647653  PMID: 17065372
aging; apoptosis; emphysema; inflammation; oxidative stress
16.  Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of Alveolar Destruction in Emphysema 
Emphysema consists of a unique pattern of alveolar destruction, resulting in marked airspace enlargement with reduction of alveolar capillary exchange area. Classical concepts of the pathogenesis of emphysema have relied on the paradigm set by the inflammation and protease/antiprotease imbalance. We propose herein that cigarette smoke constitutes an environmental hazard that causes alveolar destruction by the interaction of apoptosis, oxidative stress, and protease/antiprotease imbalance. We draw a parallel between organismal aging, organ structural maintenance, and the damage resulting from chronic cigarette smoke inhalation. The stochastic interaction between environmental hazards and the effort of an organism or a particular organ to fend off these hazards results in the accumulation of cellular damage and features characteristic of aging. Inflammation follows as the result of the multiplication of injuries. We highlight the importance of understanding the biology of the interaction of alveolar cells in homeostasis and in alveolar destruction, and the potential role of novel processes related to senescence and stress response. An evolutionary perspective of emphysema that incorporates mechanisms related to aging may lead to important advances in the understanding and therapeutic targeting of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
PMCID: PMC2647641  PMID: 16921129
aging; apoptosis; emphysema; inflammation; oxidative stress
17.  Pathology of Pulmonary Hypertension 
Clinics in chest medicine  2007;28(1):23-vii.
PMCID: PMC1924722  PMID: 17338926
endothelial cells; smooth muscle cells; remodeling; angiogenesis; apoptosis; proliferation
18.  In vivo endothelial siRNA delivery using polymeric nanoparticles with low molecular weight 
Nature nanotechnology  2014;9(8):648-655.
Dysfunctional endothelium contributes to more disease than any other tissue in the body. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) have the potential to help study and treat endothelial cells in vivo by durably silencing multiple genes simultaneously, but efficient siRNA delivery has so far remained challenging. Here we show that polymeric nanoparticles made of low molecular weight polyamines and lipids can deliver siRNA to endothelial cells with high efficiency, thereby facilitating the simultaneous silencing of multiple endothelial genes in vivo. Unlike lipid or lipid-like nanoparticles, this formulation does not significantly reduce gene expression in hepatocytes or immune cells even at the dosage necessary for endothelial gene silencing. It mediates the most durable non-liver silencing reported to date, and facilitates the delivery of siRNAs that modify endothelial function in mouse models of vascular permeability, emphysema, primary tumour growth, and metastasis. We believe these nanoparticles improve the ability to study endothelial gene function in vivo, and may be used to treat diseases caused by vascular dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4207430  PMID: 24813696
19.  An Official American Thoracic Society Statement: Pulmonary Hypertension Phenotypes 
Background: Current classification of pulmonary hypertension (PH) is based on a relatively simple combination of patient characteristics and hemodynamics. This limits customization of treatment, and lacks the clarity of a more granular identification based on individual patient phenotypes. Rapid advances in mechanistic understanding of the disease, improved imaging methods, and innovative biomarkers now provide an opportunity to define PH phenotypes on the basis of biomarkers, advanced imaging, and pathobiology. This document organizes our current understanding of PH phenotypes and identifies gaps in our knowledge.
Methods: A multidisciplinary committee with expertise in clinical care (pulmonary, cardiology, pediatrics, and pathology), clinical research, and/or basic science in the areas of PH identified important questions and reviewed and synthesized the literature.
Results: This document describes selected PH phenotypes and serves as an initial platform to define additional relevant phenotypes as new knowledge is generated. The biggest gaps in our knowledge stem from the fact that our present understanding of PH phenotypes has not come from any particularly organized effort to identify such phenotypes, but rather from reinterpreting studies and reports that were designed and performed for other purposes.
Conclusions: Accurate phenotyping of PH can be used in research studies to increase the homogeneity of study cohorts. Once the ability of the phenotypes to predict outcomes has been validated, phenotyping may also be useful for determining prognosis and guiding treatment. This important next step in PH patient care can optimally be addressed through a consortium of study sites with well-defined goals, tasks, and structure. Planning and support for this could include the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with industry and foundation partnerships.
PMCID: PMC4291177  PMID: 24484330
biomarkers; consortium; metabolism; pathobiology; pulmonary circulation
21.  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
22.  Reversal of severe angioproliferative pulmonary arterial hypertension and right ventricular hypertrophy by combined phosphodiesterase-5 and endothelin receptor inhibition 
Patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) are treated with vasodilators, including endothelin receptor antagonists (ERAs), phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, soluble guanylyl cyclase activators, and prostacyclin. Despite recent advances in pharmacotherapy for individuals with PAH, morbidity and mortality rates in this patient population remain unacceptably high. Here, we tested the hypothesis that combination therapy with two PAH drugs that target distinct biochemical pathways will provide superior efficacy relative to monotherapy in the rat SU5416 plus hypoxia (SU-Hx) model of severe angioproliferative PAH, which closely mimics the human condition.
Male Sprague Dawley rats were injected with a single dose of SU5416, which is a VEGF receptor antagonist, and exposed to hypobaric hypoxia for three weeks. Rats were subsequently housed at Denver altitude and treated daily with the PDE-5 inhibitor, tadalafil (TAD), the type A endothelin receptor (ETA) antagonist, ambrisentan (AMB), or a combination of TAD and AMB for four additional weeks.
Monotherapy with TAD or AMB led to modest reductions in pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) and right ventricular (RV) hypertrophy. In contrast, echocardiography and invasive hemodynamic measurements revealed that combined TAD/AMB nearly completely reversed pulmonary hemodynamic impairment, RV hypertrophy, and RV functional deficit in SU-Hx rats. Efficacy of TAD/AMB was associated with dramatic reductions in pulmonary vascular remodeling, including suppression of endothelial cell plexiform lesions, which are common in human PAH.
Combined therapy with two vasodilators that are approved for the treatment of human PAH provides unprecedented efficacy in the rat SU-Hx preclinical model of severe, angioproliferative PAH.
PMCID: PMC4255666  PMID: 25425003
Endothelin; Phosphodiesterase; Pulmonary hypertension; Remodeling
23.  Novosphingobium and Its Potential Role in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Insights from Microbiome Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e111150.
Bacterial infection of lung airways underlies some of the main complications of COPD, significantly impacting disease progression and outcome. Colonization by bacteria may further synergize, amplify, or trigger pathways of tissue damage started by cigarette smoke, contributing to the characteristic airway inflammation and alveolar destruction of COPD. We sought to elucidate the presence and types of lung bacterial populations in different stages of COPD, aimed at revealing important insights into the pathobiology of the disease. Sequencing of the bacterial small subunit ribosomal RNA gene in 55 well-characterized clinical lung samples, revealed the presence of Novosphingobium spp. (>2% abundance) in lungs of patients with GOLD 3-GOLD 4 COPD, cystic fibrosis and a subset of control individuals. Novosphingobium-specific quantitative PCR was concordant with the sequence data and high levels of Novosphingobium spp. were quantifiable in advanced COPD, but not from other disease stages. Using a mouse model of subacute lung injury due to inhalation of cigarette smoke, bronchoalveolar lavage neutrophil and macrophage counts were significantly higher in mice challenged intratracheally with N. panipatense compared to control mice (p<0.01). Frequencies of neutrophils and macrophages in lung tissue were increased in mice challenged with N. panipatense at room air compared to controls. However, we did not observe an interaction between N. panipatense and subacute cigarette smoke exposure in the mouse. In conclusion, Novosphingobium spp. are present in more severe COPD disease, and increase inflammation in a mouse model of smoke exposure.
PMCID: PMC4207766  PMID: 25340840
24.  Kinetics of the angiogenic response in lung endothelium following acute inflammatory injury with bleomycin 
Experimental lung research  2014;40(8):415-425.
Angiogenesis is a central component of normal wound healing but it has not been fully characterized in lung repair following acute inflammatory injury. The current literature lacks vital information pertaining to the extent, timing, and location of this process. This information is necessary for examining mechanisms that drive normal lung repair in resolving acute inflammatory injury. The goal of our study was to formally characterize lung angiogenesis over a time course of bleomycin induced lung injury.
Materials and Methods
Female C57BL/6 mice age 8-12 weeks were treated with a single dose of intratracheal bleomycin. Total lung endothelial cells were quantified with flow cytometry 0, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days following bleomycin administration, and endothelial cell replication was assessed using bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation.
Endothelial cell replication was maximal 14 days after bleomycin administration, while total lung endothelial cells peaked at day 21. Tissue analysis with stereology was performed to measure total lung vascular surface area in bleomycin at day 21 relative to controls and demonstrated a trend toward increased vasculature in the bleomycin group.
Angiogenesis begins shortly after injury in the bleomycin model and leads to an expansion in the lung endothelial cell population that peaks at day 21. This study offers the first longitudinal examination of angiogenesis following acute inflammatory lung injury induced by bleomycin. Information provided in this study will be vital for further investigating mechanisms of angiogenesis in both normal and abnormal lung repair.
PMCID: PMC4165791  PMID: 25153689
25.  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

Results 1-25 (72)