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.
biomarkers; consortium; metabolism; pathobiology; pulmonary circulation
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.
pulmonary circulation; vessel remodeling; angiogenesis; inflammation
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.
glycolytic shift; hypoxia-inducible factor; fatty acid oxidation; right ventricular hypertrophy; pulmonary hypertension
Rationale: Germline mutations in the enzyme telomerase cause telomere shortening, and have their most common clinical manifestation in age-related lung disease that manifests as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Short telomeres are also a unique heritable trait that is acquired with age.
Objectives: We sought to understand the mechanisms by which telomerase deficiency contributes to lung disease.
Methods: We studied telomerase null mice with short telomeres.
Measurements and Main Results: Although they have no baseline histologic defects, when mice with short telomeres are exposed to chronic cigarette smoke, in contrast with controls, they develop emphysematous air space enlargement. The emphysema susceptibility did not depend on circulating cell genotype, because mice with short telomeres developed emphysema even when transplanted with wild-type bone marrow. In lung epithelium, cigarette smoke exposure caused additive DNA damage to telomere dysfunction, which limited their proliferative recovery, and coincided with a failure to down-regulate p21, a mediator of cellular senescence, and we show here, a determinant of alveolar epithelial cell cycle progression. We also report early onset of emphysema, in addition to pulmonary fibrosis, in a family with a germline deletion in the Box H domain of the RNA component of telomerase.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that short telomeres lower the threshold of cigarette smoke–induced damage, and implicate telomere length as a genetic susceptibility factor in emphysema, potentially contributing to its age-related onset in humans.
telomerase; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; dyskeratosis congenita; interstitial lung disease
Rationale: Vascular remodeling in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) involves proliferation and migration of endothelial and smooth muscle cells, leading to obliterative vascular lesions. Previous studies have indicated that the endothelial cell proliferation is quasineoplastic, with evidence of monoclonality and instability of short DNA microsatellite sequences.
Objectives: To assess whether there is larger-scale genomic instability.
Methods: We performed genome-wide microarray copy number analysis on pulmonary artery endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells isolated from the lungs of patients with PAH.
Measurements and Main Results: Mosaic chromosomal abnormalities were detected in PAEC cultures from five of nine PAH lungs but not in normal (n = 8) or disease control subjects (n = 5). Fluorescent in situ hybridization analysis confirmed the presence of these abnormalities in vivo in two of three cases. One patient harbored a germline mutation of BMPR2, the primary genetic cause of PAH, and somatic loss of chromosome-13, which constitutes a second hit in the same pathway by deleting Smad-8. In two female subjects with mosaic loss of the X chromosome, methylation analysis showed that the active X was deleted. One subject also showed completely skewed X-inactivation in the nondeleted cells, suggesting the pulmonary artery endothelial cell population was clonal before the acquisition of the chromosome abnormality.
Conclusions: Our data indicate a high frequency of genetically abnormal subclones within PAH lung vessels and provide the first definitive evidence of a second genetic hit in a patient with a germline BMPR2 mutation. We propose that these chromosome abnormalities may confer a growth advantage and thus contribute to the progression of PAH.
endothelium; somatic genetics; chromosome deletion
Rationale: The critical innate immune mechanisms that regulate granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis are unknown. Because the granuloma-inducing component of sarcoidosis tissues has physicochemical properties similar to those of amyloid fibrils, we hypothesized that host proteins capable of forming poorly soluble aggregates or amyloid regulate inflammation in sarcoidosis.
Objectives: To determine the role of the amyloid precursor protein, serum amyloid A, as an innate regulator of granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis.
Methods: Serum amyloid A expression was determined by immunohistochemistry in sarcoidosis and control tissues and by ELISA. The effect of serum amyloid A on nuclear factor (NF)-κB induction, cytokine expression, and Toll-like receptor-2 stimulation was determined with transformed human cell lines and bronchoalveolar lavage cells from patients with sarcoidosis. The effects of serum amyloid A on regulating helper T cell type 1 (Th1) granulomatous inflammation were determined in experimental models of sarcoidosis, using Mycobacterium tuberculosis catalase–peroxidase.
Measurements and Main Results: We found that the intensity of expression and distribution of serum amyloid A within sarcoidosis granulomas was unlike that in many other granulomatous diseases. Serum amyloid A localized to macrophages and giant cells within sarcoidosis granulomas but correlated with CD3+ lymphocytes, linking expression to local Th1 responses. Serum amyloid A activated NF-κB in Toll-like receptor-2–expressing human cell lines; regulated experimental Th1-mediated granulomatous inflammation through IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor, IL-10, and Toll-like receptor-2; and stimulated production of tumor necrosis factor, IL-10, and IL-18 in lung cells from patients with sarcoidosis, effects inhibited by blocking Toll-like receptor-2.
Conclusions: Serum amyloid A is a constituent and innate regulator of granulomatous inflammation in sarcoidosis through Toll-like receptor-2, providing a mechanism for chronic disease and new therapeutic targets.
sarcoidosis; serum amyloid A; innate immunity; granuloma; cytokines
Rationale: Cigarette smoke (CS) exposure is an important risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; however, not all smokers develop disease, suggesting that other factors influence disease development.
Objectives: We sought to determine whether neuropilin-1 (Nrp1), an integral component of receptor complexes mediating alveolar septation and vascular development, was involved in maintenance of normal alveolar structure, and/or altered susceptibility to the effects of CS.
Methods: Transgenic mice were generated to achieve inducible lung-specific deletion of epithelial Nrp1. We determined whether conditional Nrp1 deletion altered airspace size, then compared the effects of chronic CS or filtered air exposure on airspace size, inflammation, and the balance between cell death and proliferation in conditionally Nrp1–deficient adult mice and littermate controls. Finally, we evaluated the effects of Nrp1 silencing on cell death after acute exposure of A549 cells to cigarette smoke extract or short chain ceramides.
Measurements and Main Results: Genetic deletion of epithelial Nrp1 in either postnatal or adult lungs resulted in a small increase in airspace size. More notably, both airspace enlargement and apoptosis of type I and type II alveolar epithelial cells were significantly enhanced following chronic CS exposure in conditionally Nrp1-deficient adult mice. Silencing of Nrp1 in A549 cells did not alter cell survival after vehicle treatment but significantly augmented apoptosis after exposure to cigarette smoke extract or ceramide.
Conclusions: These data support a role for epithelial Nrp1 in the maintenance of normal alveolar structure and suggest that dysregulation of Nrp1 expression may promote epithelial cell death in response to CS exposure, thereby enhancing emphysema development.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; genetically modified mice; apoptosis
Rationale: Oxidative stress is a key contributor in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) pathogenesis caused by cigarette smoking. NRF2, a redox-sensitive transcription factor, dissociates from its inhibitor, KEAP1, to induce antioxidant expression that inhibits oxidative stress.
Objectives: To determine the link between severity of COPD, oxidative stress, and NRF2-dependent antioxidant levels in the peripheral lung tissue of patients with COPD.
Methods: We assessed the expression of NRF2, NRF2-dependent antioxidants, regulators of NRF2 activity, and oxidative damage in non-COPD (smokers and former smokers) and smoker COPD lungs (mild and advanced). Cigarette smoke–exposed human lung epithelial cells (Beas2B) and mice were used to understand the mechanisms.
Measurements and Main Results: When compared with non-COPD lungs, the COPD patient lungs showed (1) marked decline in NRF2-dependent antioxidants and glutathione levels, (2) increased oxidative stress markers, (3) significant decrease in NRF2 protein with no change in NRF2 mRNA levels, and (4) similar KEAP1 but significantly decreased DJ-1 levels (a protein that stabilizes NRF2 protein by impairing KEAP1-dependent proteasomal degradation of NRF2). Exposure of Bea2B cells to cigarette smoke caused oxidative modification and enhanced proteasomal degradation of DJ-1 protein. Disruption of DJ-1 in mouse lungs, mouse embryonic fibroblasts, and Beas2B cells lowered NRF2 protein stability and impaired antioxidant induction in response to cigarette smoke. Interestingly, targeting KEAP1 by siRNA or the small-molecule activator sulforaphane restored induction of NRF2-dependent antioxidants in DJ-1–disrupted cells in response to cigarette smoke.
Conclusions: NRF2-dependent antioxidants and DJ-1 expression was negatively associated with severity of COPD. Therapy directed toward enhancing NRF2-regulated antioxidants may be a novel strategy for attenuating the effects of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of COPD.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; NRF2; DJ-1; oxidative stress; antioxidants
Rationale: Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a progressive disease characterized by an elevation in the mean pulmonary artery pressure leading to right heart failure and a significant risk of death. Alterations in two transforming growth factor (TGF) signaling pathways, bone morphogenetic protein receptor II and the TGF-β receptor I, Alk1, have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension (PH). However, the role of TGF-β family signaling in PH and pulmonary vascular remodeling remains unclear.
Objectives: To determine whether inhibition of TGF-β signaling will attenuate and reverse monocrotaline-induced PH (MCT-PH).
Methods: We have used an orally active small-molecule TGF-β receptor I inhibitor, SD-208, to determine the functional role of this pathway in MCT-PH.
Measurements and Main Results: The development of MCT-PH was associated with increased vascular cell apoptosis, which paralleled TGF-β signaling as documented by psmad2 expression. Inhibition of TGF-β signaling with SD-208 significantly attenuated the development of the PH and reduced pulmonary vascular remodeling. These effects were associated with decreased early vascular cell apoptosis, adventitial cell proliferation, and matrix metalloproteinase expression. Inhibition of TGF-β signaling with SD-208 in established MCT-PH resulted in a small but significant improvement in hemodynamic parameters and medial remodeling.
Conclusions: These findings provide evidence that increased TGF-β signaling participates in the pathogenesis of experimental severe PH.
pulmonary hypertension; transforming growth factor-β; apoptosis; proliferation; matrix metalloproteinase
Rationale: Mechanical ventilation (MV) is an indispensable therapy for critically ill patients with acute lung injury and the adult respiratory distress syndrome. However, the mechanisms by which conventional MV induces lung injury remain unclear.
Objectives: We hypothesized that disruption of the gene encoding Nrf2, a transcription factor that regulates the induction of several antioxidant enzymes, enhances susceptibility to ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) and that antioxidant supplementation attenuates this effect.
Methods: To test our hypothesis and to examine the relevance of oxidative stress in VILI, we assessed lung injury and inflammatory responses in Nrf2-deficient (Nrf2−/−) mice and wild-type (Nrf2+/+) mice after an acute (2-h) injurious model of MV with or without administration of antioxidant.
Measurements and Main Results: Nrf2−/− mice displayed greater levels of lung alveolar and vascular permeability and inflammatory responses to MV as compared with Nrf2+/+ mice. Nrf2 deficiency enhances the levels of several proinflammatory cytokines implicated in the pathogenesis of VILI. We found diminished levels of critical antioxidant enzymes and redox imbalance by MV in the lungs of Nrf2−/− mice; however, antioxidant supplementation to Nrf2−/− mice remarkably attenuated VILI. When subjected to a clinically relevant prolong period of MV, Nrf2−/− mice displayed greater levels of VILI than Nrf2+/+ mice. Expression profiling revealed lack of induction of several VILI genes, stress response and solute carrier proteins, and phosphatases in Nrf2−/− mice.
Conclusions: Our data demonstrate for the first time a critical role for Nrf2 in VILI, which confers protection against cellular responses induced by MV by modulating oxidative stress.
acute lung injury; antioxidant enzymes; mechanical ventilation; Nrf2; inflammation
Rationale: HIV-infected patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension have histologic manifestations that are indistinguishable from those found in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. In addition, the role of pleiotropic viral proteins in the development of plexiform lesions in HIV-related pulmonary hypertension (HRPH) has not been explored. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of macaques has been found to closely recapitulate many of the characteristic features of HIV infection, and thus hallmarks of pulmonary arterial hypertension should also be found in this nonhuman primate model of HIV.
Objectives: To determine whether pulmonary arterial lesions were present in archived SIV-infected macaque lung tissues from Johns Hopkins University and two National Primate Research Centers.
Methods: Archived macaque and human lung sections were examined via immunohistochemistry for evidence of complex vascular lesions.
Results: Complex plexiform-like lesions characterized by lumenal obliteration, intimal disruption, medial hypertrophy, thrombosis, and recanalized lumena were found exclusively in animals infected with SHIV-nef (a chimeric viral construct containing the HIV nef gene in an SIV backbone), but not in animals infected with SIV. The mass of cells in the lesions were factor VIII positive, and contained cells positive for muscle-specific and smooth muscle actins. Lung mononuclear cells were positive for HIV Nef, suggesting viral replication. Endothelial cells in both the SHIV-nef macaques and patients with HRPH, but not in patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, were also Nef positive.
Conclusions: The discovery of complex vascular lesions in SHIV-nef– but not SIV-infected animals, and the presence of Nef in the vascular cells of patients with HRPH, suggest that Nef plays a key role in the development of severe pulmonary arterial disease.
idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension; HIV-1; Nef; pulmonary hypertension; SHIV-nef
Rationale: There is growing evidence that alveolar cell apoptosis plays an important role in emphysema pathogenesis, a chronic inflammatory lung disease characterized by alveolar destruction. The association of α1-antitrypsin deficiency with the development of emphysema has supported the concept that protease/antiprotease imbalance mediates cigarette smoke–induced emphysema.
Objectives: We propose that, in addition to its antielastolytic effects, α1-antitrypsin may have broader biological effects in the lung, preventing emphysema through inhibition of alveolar cells apoptosis.
Methods, Measurements, and Main Results: Transduction of human α1-antitrypsin via replication-deficient adeno-associated virus attenuated airspace enlargement and emphysema caused by inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors with SU5416 in mice, a model of apoptosis-dependent emphysema lacking neutrophilic inflammation. The overexpressed human serine protease inhibitor accumulated in lung cells and suppressed caspase-3 activation and oxidative stress in lungs treated with the VEGF blocker or with VEGF receptor-1 and -2 antibodies. Similar results were obtained in SU5416-treated rats given human α1-antitrypsin intravenously.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that inhibition of structural alveolar cell apoptosis by α1-antitrypsin represents a novel protective mechanism of the serpin against emphysema. Further elucidation of this mechanism may extend the therapeutic options for emphysema caused by reduced level or loss of function of α1-antitrypsin.
antiprotease; caspase; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; oxidative stress; serpin