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Pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell endothelin-1 expression modulates the pulmonary vascular response to chronic hypoxia.

American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology (2014-11-17)
Francis Y Kim, Elizabeth A Barnes, Lihua Ying, Chihhsin Chen, Lori Lee, Cristina M Alvira, David N Cornfield
ABSTRACT

Endothelin-1 (ET-1) increases pulmonary vascular tone through direct effects on pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) via membrane-bound ET-1 receptors. Circulating ET-1 contributes to vascular remodeling by promoting SMC proliferation and migration and inhibiting SMC apoptosis. Although endothelial cells (EC) are the primary source of ET-1, whether ET-1 produced by SMC modulates pulmonary vascular tone is unknown. Using transgenic mice created by crossbreeding SM22α-Cre mice with ET-1(flox/flox) mice to selectively delete ET-1 in SMC, we tested the hypothesis that PASMC ET-1 gene expression modulates the pulmonary vascular response to hypoxia. ET-1 gene deletion and selective activity of SM22α promoter-driven Cre recombinase were confirmed. Functional assays were performed under normoxic (21% O2) or hypoxic (5% O2) conditions using murine PASMC obtained from ET-1(+/+) and ET-1(-/-) mic and in human PASMC (hPASMC) after silencing of ET-1 using siRNA. Under baseline conditions, there was no difference in right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) between SM22α-ET-1(-/-) and SM22α-ET-1(+/+) (control) littermates. After exposure to hypoxia (10% O2, 21-24 days), RVSP was and vascular remodeling were less in SM22α-ET-1(-/-) mice compared with control littermates (P < 0.01). Loss of ET-1 decreased PASMC proliferation and migration and increased apoptosis under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Exposure to selective ET-1 receptor antagonists had no effect on either the hypoxia-induced hPASMC proliferative or migratory response. SMC-specific ET-1 deletion attenuates hypoxia-induced increases in pulmonary vascular tone and structural remodeling. The observation that loss of ET-1 inhibited SMC proliferation, survival, and migration represents evidence that ET-1 derived from SMC plays a previously undescribed role in modulating the response of the pulmonary circulation to hypoxia. Thus PASMC ET-1 may modulate vascular tone independently of ET-1 produced by EC.

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