Nature communications

TNFα drives pulmonary arterial hypertension by suppressing the BMP type-II receptor and altering NOTCH signalling.

PMID 28084316


Heterozygous germ-line mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein type-II receptor (BMPR-II) gene underlie heritable pulmonary arterial hypertension (HPAH). Although inflammation promotes PAH, the mechanisms by which inflammation and BMPR-II dysfunction conspire to cause disease remain unknown. Here we identify that tumour necrosis factor-α (TNFα) selectively reduces BMPR-II transcription and mediates post-translational BMPR-II cleavage via the sheddases, ADAM10 and ADAM17 in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). TNFα-mediated suppression of BMPR-II subverts BMP signalling, leading to BMP6-mediated PASMC proliferation via preferential activation of an ALK2/ACTR-IIA signalling axis. Furthermore, TNFα, via SRC family kinases, increases pro-proliferative NOTCH2 signalling in HPAH PASMCs with reduced BMPR-II expression. We confirm this signalling switch in rodent models of PAH and demonstrate that anti-TNFα immunotherapy reverses disease progression, restoring normal BMP/NOTCH signalling. Collectively, these findings identify mechanisms by which BMP and TNFα signalling contribute to disease, and suggest a tractable approach for therapeutic intervention in PAH.