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.
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.
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