MicroRNA (miRNA) are short noncoding RNA that regulate gene expression by inhibiting translation or promoting degradation of target mRNA. miRNA are key regulators of a wide range of cellular processes and their discovery has revolutionized our understanding of gene regulatory networks. Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a debilitating and fatal disease characterized by remodeling of pulmonary arteries and right heart failure. Factors including sustained pulmonary vasoconstriction, inflammation, and altered cellular signaling pathways drive disease through pulmonary artery endothelial dysfunction, smooth muscle cell proliferation, and the recruitment of circulating cells. miRNA have been shown to regulate many of the key drivers of pathology, yet the role of only a limited number of miRNA has been recognized in PAH. Investigation of the diverse regulatory functions of miRNA offers the potential to further understanding of the cellular pathology of PAH and to provide much needed diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. This review focuses on recent advances in the investigation of miRNA in PAH.
The contribution of blood flow to angiogenesis is incompletely understood. We examined the effect of blood flow on Notch signalling in the vasculature of zebrafish embryos, and whether blood flow regulates angiogenesis in zebrafish with constitutively up-regulated hypoxic signalling.
A KIF6 variant in man has been reported to be associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes after myocardial infarction. No clear biological or physiological data exist for Kif6. We sought to investigate the impact of a deleterious KIF6 mutation on cardiac function in mice. Kif6 mutant mice were generated and verified. Cardiac function was assessed by serial echocardiography at baseline, after ageing and after exercise. Lipid levels were also measured. No discernable adverse lipid or cardiac phenotype was detected in Kif6 mutant mice. These data suggest that dysfunction of Kif6 is linked to other more complex biological/biochemical parameters or is unlikely to be of material consequence in cardiac function.
Novel therapeutics targeting neutrophilic inflammation are a major unmet clinical need in acute and chronic inflammation. The timely induction of neutrophil apoptosis is critical for inflammation resolution, and it is thought that acceleration of apoptosis may facilitate resolution at inflammatory sites. We previously demonstrated that a death receptor ligand, TRAIL, accelerates neutrophil apoptosis in vitro. We examined the role of TRAIL in neutrophil-dominant inflammation in WT and TRAIL-deficient mice. TRAIL deficiency did not alter constitutive neutrophil apoptosis, whereas exogenous TRAIL accelerated apoptosis of murine peripheral blood neutrophils. We compared TRAIL-deficient and WT mice in two independent models of neutrophilic inflammation: bacterial LPS-induced acute lung injury and zymosan-induced peritonitis. In both models, TRAIL-deficient mice had an enhanced inflammatory response with increased neutrophil numbers and reduced neutrophil apoptosis. Correction of TRAIL deficiency and supraphysiological TRAIL signaling using exogenous protein enhanced neutrophil apoptosis and reduced neutrophil numbers in both inflammatory models with no evidence of effects on other cell types. These data indicate the potential therapeutic benefit of TRAIL in neutrophilic inflammation.
Inflammatory mechanisms are proposed to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Previous studies have described PAH in fat-fed apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE(-/-)) mice. We have reported that signaling in interleukin-1-receptor-knockout (IL-1R1(-/-)) mice leads to a reduction in diet-induced systemic atherosclerosis. We subsequently hypothesized that double-null (ApoE(-/-)/IL-1R1(-/-)) mice would show a reduced PAH phenotype compared with that of ApoE(-/-) mice. Male IL-1R1(-/-), ApoE(-/-), and ApoE(-/-)/IL-1R1(-/-) mice were fed regular chow or a high-fat diet (Paigen diet) for 8 weeks before phenotyping for PAH. No abnormal phenotype was observed in the IL-1R1(-/-) mice. Fat-fed ApoE(-/-) mice developed significantly increased right ventricular systolic pressure and substantial pulmonary vascular remodeling. Surprisingly, ApoE(-/-)/IL-1R1(-/-) mice showed an even more severe PAH phenotype. Further molecular investigation revealed the expression of a putative, alternatively primed IL-1R1 transcript expressed within the lungs but not aorta of ApoE(-/-)/IL-1R1(-/-) mice. Treatment of ApoE(-/-) and ApoE(-/-)/IL-1R1(-/-) mice with IL-1-receptor antagonist prevented progression of the PAH phenotype in both strains. Blocking IL-1 signaling may have beneficial effects in treating PAH, and alternative IL-1-receptor signaling in the lung may be important in driving PAH pathogenesis.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a life-threatening disease characterized by the progressive narrowing and occlusion of small pulmonary arteries. Current therapies fail to fully reverse this vascular remodeling. Identifying key pathways in disease pathogenesis is therefore required for the development of new-targeted therapeutics. We have previously reported tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) immunoreactivity within pulmonary vascular lesions from patients with idiopathic PAH and animal models. Because TRAIL can induce both endothelial cell apoptosis and smooth muscle cell proliferation in the systemic circulation, we hypothesized that TRAIL is an important mediator in the pathogenesis of PAH. We demonstrate for the first time that TRAIL is a potent stimulus for pulmonary vascular remodeling in human cells and rodent models. Furthermore, antibody blockade or genetic deletion of TRAIL prevents the development of PAH in three independent rodent models. Finally, anti-TRAIL antibody treatment of rodents with established PAH reverses pulmonary vascular remodeling by reducing proliferation and inducing apoptosis, improves hemodynamic indices, and significantly increases survival. These preclinical investigations are the first to demonstrate the importance of TRAIL in PAH pathogenesis and highlight its potential as a novel therapeutic target to direct future translational therapies.
The phenotype and outcome of severe pulmonary hypertension in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is described in small numbers, and predictors of survival are unknown. Data was retrieved for 101 consecutive, treatment-naïve cases of pulmonary hypertension in COPD. Mean ± SD follow-up was 2.3 ± 1.9 years. 59 patients with COPD and severe pulmonary hypertension, defined by catheter mean pulmonary artery pressure ?40 mmHg, had significantly lower carbon monoxide diffusion, less severe airflow obstruction but not significantly different emphysema scores on computed tomography compared to 42 patients with mild-moderate pulmonary hypertension. 1- and 3-year survival for severe pulmonary hypertension, at 70% and 33%, respectively, was inferior to 83% and 55%, respectively, for mild-moderate pulmonary hypertension. Mixed venous oxygen saturation, carbon monoxide diffusion, World Health Organization functional class and age, but not severity of airflow obstruction, were independent predictors of outcome. Compassionate treatment with targeted therapies in 43 patients with severe pulmonary hypertension was not associated with a survival benefit, although improvement in functional class and/or fall in pulmonary vascular resistance >20% following treatment identified patients with improved survival. Standard prognostic markers in COPD have limited value in patients with pulmonary hypertension. This study identifies variables that predict outcome in this phenotype. Despite poor prognosis, our data suggest that further evaluation of targeted therapies is warranted.
We previously reported that osteoprotegerin (OPG) is regulated by pathways associated with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and is present at elevated levels within pulmonary vascular lesions and sera from patients with idiopathic PAH (IPAH). Since OPG is a naturally secreted protein, we investigated the relationship between serum OPG and disease severity and outcome in patients with IPAH and animal models. OPG mRNA expression was measured in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) from pulmonary arteries of patients with and without IPAH. Serum concentrations of OPG were measured in a retrospective and prospective group of patients. OPG levels were compared with phenotypic data and other putative PAH biomarkers. Prognostic significance was assessed and levels compared with healthy controls. Correlation of OPG and pulmonary vascular remodeling was also performed in rodent models of PAH. OPG mRNA was significantly increased 2-fold in PASMC isolated from explanted PAH lungs compared with control. Serum OPG concentrations were markedly elevated in IPAH compared with controls. In Cohort 1 OPG levels significantly correlated with mean right atrial pressure and cardiac index, while in Cohort 2 significant correlations existed between age-adjusted OPG levels and gas transfer. In both cohorts an OPG concentration above a ROC-derived threshold of 4728 pg/ml predicted poorer survival. In two rodent models, OPG correlated with the degree of pulmonary vascular remodeling. OPG levels are significantly elevated in patients with idiopathic PAH and are of prognostic significance. The role of OPG as a potential biomarker and therapeutic target merits further investigation.
The death receptor ligand tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) shows considerable clinical promise as a therapeutic agent. TRAIL induces leukocyte apoptosis, reducing acute inflammatory responses in the lung. It is not known whether TRAIL modifies chronic lung injury or whether TRAIL has a role in human idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). We therefore explored the capacity of TRAIL to modify chronic inflammatory lung injury and studied TRAIL expression in patients with IPF.
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