Erik R Walp

Emory University, Atlanta, GA, United States

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Publications (7)18.18 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive disease characterized by increased pulmonary arterial resistance and vessel remodeling. Patients living with human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) have an increased susceptibility to develop severe pulmonary hypertension (PH) irrespective of their CD4+ lymphocyte counts. While the underlying cause of HIV-PAH remains unknown, the interaction of HIV-1 proteins with the vascular endothelium may play a critical role in HIV-PAH development. Hypoxia promotes PH in experimental models and in humans, but the impact of HIV-1 proteins on hypoxia-induced pulmonary vascular dysfunction and PAH has not been examined. Therefore, we hypothesize that the presence of HIV-1 proteins and hypoxia synergistically augment the development of pulmonary vascular dysfunction and PH. We examined the effect of HIV-1 proteins on pulmonary vascular resistance by measuring pressure-volume relationships in isolated lungs from wild-type (WT) and HIV-1 Transgenic (Tg) rats. WT and HIV-1 Tg rats were exposed to 10% O2 for four weeks to induce experimental pulmonary hypertension to assess whether HIV-1 protein expression would impact the development of hypoxia-induced PH. Our results demonstrate that HIV-1 protein expression significantly increased pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR). HIV-1 Tg mice demonstrated exaggerated pulmonary vascular responses to hypoxia as evidenced by greater increases in right ventricular systolic pressures, right ventricular hypertrophy and vessel muscularization when compared to wild-type controls. This enhanced PH was associated with enhanced expression of HIF-1α and PCNA. In addition, in vitro studies reveal that medium from HIV-infected monocyte derived macrophages (MDM) potentiates hypoxia-induced pulmonary artery endothelial proliferation. These results indicate that the presence of HIV-1 proteins likely impact pulmonary vascular resistance and exacerbate hypoxia-induced PH.
    Pulmonary circulation. 01/2013; 3(1):58-67.
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    ABSTRACT: Diastolic heart failure is a major cause of mortality in the elderly population. It is often preceded by diastolic dysfunction, which is characterized by impaired active relaxation and increased stiffness. We tested the hypothesis that senescence-prone (SAMP8) mice would develop diastolic dysfunction compared with senescence-resistant controls (SAMR1). Pulsed-wave Doppler imaging of the ratio of blood flow velocity through the mitral valve during early (E) vs. late (A) diastole was reduced from 1.3 ± 0.03 in SAMR1 mice to 1.2 ± 0.03 in SAMP8 mice (P < 0.05). Tissue Doppler imaging of the early (E') and late (A') diastolic mitral annulus velocities found E' reduced from 25.7 ± 0.9 mm/s in SAMR1 to 21.1 ± 0.8 mm/s in SAMP8 mice and E'/A' similarly reduced from 1.1 ± 0.02 to 0.8 ± 0.03 in SAMR1 vs. SAMP8 mice, respectively (P < 0.05). Invasive hemodynamics revealed an increased slope of the end-diastolic pressure-volume relationship (0.5 ± 0.05 vs. 0.8 ± 0.14; P < 0.05), indicating increased left ventricular chamber stiffness. There were no differences in systolic function or mean arterial pressure; however, diastolic dysfunction was accompanied by increased fibrosis in the hearts of SAMP8 mice. In SAMR1 vs. SAMP8 mice, interstitial collagen area increased from 0.3 ± 0.04 to 0.8 ± 0.09% and perivascular collagen area increased from 1.0 ± 0.11 to 1.6 ± 0.14%. Transforming growth factor-β and connective tissue growth factor gene expression were increased in the hearts of SAMP8 mice (P < 0.05 for all data). In summary, SAMP8 mice show increased fibrosis and diastolic dysfunction similar to those seen in humans with aging and may represent a suitable model for future mechanistic studies.
    AJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology 07/2011; 301(3):H824-31. · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The contribution of medial calcification to vascular dysfunction in renal failure is unknown. Vascular function was measured ex vivo in control, noncalcified uremic, and calcified uremic aortas from rats with adenine-induced renal failure. Plasma urea was 16 ± 4, 93 ± 14, and 110 ± 25 mg/dl, and aortic calcium content was 27 ± 4, 29 ± 2, and 4,946 ± 1,616 nmol/mg dry wt, respectively, in the three groups. Maximal contraction by phenylephrine (PE) or KCl was reduced 53 and 63% in uremic aortas, and sensitivity to KCl but not PE was increased. Maximal relaxation to acetylcholine was impaired in uremic aortas (30 vs. 65%), and sensitivity to nitroprusside was also reduced, indicating some impairment of endothelium-independent relaxation as well. None of these parameters differed between calcified and noncalcified uremic aortas. However, aortic compliance was reduced in calcified aortas, ranging from 17 to 61% depending on the severity of calcification. We conclude that uremic vascular calcification, even when not severe, significantly reduces arterial compliance. Vascular smooth muscle and endothelial function are altered in renal failure but are not affected by medial calcification, even when severe.
    AJP Renal Physiology 04/2011; 301(1):F78-83. · 4.42 Impact Factor
  • Nitric Oxide-biology and Chemistry - NITRIC OXIDE-BIOL CHEM. 01/2011; 24.
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic hypoxia contributes to pulmonary hypertension through complex mechanisms that include enhanced NADPH oxidase expression and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in the lung. Stimulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) reduces the expression and activity of NADPH oxidase. Therefore, we hypothesized that activating PPARgamma with rosiglitazone would attenuate chronic hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension, in part, through suppressing NADPH oxidase-derived ROS that stimulate proliferative signaling pathways. Male C57Bl/6 mice were exposed to chronic hypoxia (CH, Fi(O2) 10%) or room air for 3 or 5 weeks. During the last 10 days of exposure, each animal was treated daily by gavage with either the PPARgamma ligand, rosiglitazone (10 mg/kg/d) or with an equal volume of vehicle. CH increased: (1) right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), (2) right ventricle weight, (3) thickness of the walls of small pulmonary vessels, (4) superoxide production and Nox4 expression in the lung, and (5) platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFRbeta) expression and activity and reduced phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) expression. Treatment with rosiglitazone prevented the development of pulmonary hypertension at 3 weeks; reversed established pulmonary hypertension at 5 weeks; and attenuated CH-stimulated Nox4 expression and superoxide production, PDGFRbeta activation, and reductions in PTEN expression. Rosiglitazone also attenuated hypoxia-induced increases in Nox4 expression in pulmonary endothelial cells in vitro despite hypoxia-induced reductions in PPARgamma expression. Collectively, these findings indicate that PPARgamma ligands attenuated hypoxia-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling and hypertension by suppressing oxidative and proliferative signals providing novel insights for mechanisms underlying therapeutic effects of PPARgamma activation in pulmonary hypertension.
    American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 07/2009; 42(4):482-90. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), such as zidovudine (AZT) and stavudine (d4T), cause toxicities to numerous tissues, including the liver and vasculature. While much is known about hepatic NRTI toxicity, the mechanism of toxicity in endothelial cells is incompletely understood. Human aortic endothelial and HepG2 liver cells were exposed to 1 muM AZT or d4T for up to 5 weeks. Markers of oxidative stress, mitochondrial function, NRTI phosphorylation, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) levels, and cytotoxicity were monitored over time. In endothelial cells, AZT significantly oxidized glutathione redox potential, increased total cellular and mitochondrial-specific superoxide, decreased mitochondrial membrane potential, increased lactate release, and caused cell death from weeks 3 through 5. Toxicity occurred in the absence of di- and tri-phosphorylated AZT and mtDNA depletion. These data show that oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in endothelial cells occur with a physiologically relevant concentration of AZT, and require long-term exposure to develop. In contrast, d4T did not induce endothelial oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, or cytotoxicity despite the presence of d4T-triphosphate. Both drugs depleted mtDNA in HepG2 cells without causing cell death. Endothelial cells are more susceptible to AZT-induced toxicity than HepG2 cells, and AZT caused greater endothelial dysfunction than d4T because of its pro-oxidative effects.
    Cardiovascular toxicology 01/2009; 9(1):1-12. · 2.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic alcohol consumption perturbs cellular function in a variety of organ systems. Previous studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption reduces vascular disease, whereas heavier alcohol consumption may worsen it. The mechanisms for these vascular effects of chronic alcohol ingestion continue to be defined and constitute the focus of this study. Male Sprague Dawley rats were fed an isocaloric, Lieber-Decarli liquid diet containing either ethanol (36% calories) or Maltose-Dextrin (substituted for ethanol) for 6 weeks. Telemetric blood pressure measurements were taken before and after ethanol feeding. After the rats were killed, the aortas were analyzed for endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase expression and NO production. Chronic ethanol ingestion decreased mean arterial pressure and increased aortic NO production as demonstrated by direct ex vivo measurements using iron diethyldithio-carbamic acid as well as analysis of nitrosyl-hemoglobin (NO-Hb) levels. Consistent with these assays of vascular NO production, endothelium-dependent relaxation responses to acetycholine (Ach) were enhanced in ethanol-fed animals. Aortic endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression was also increased by chronic ethanol ingestion. These findings demonstrate that a regimen of chronic alcohol ingestion in the rat produced generally salutary effects in the systemic vasculature following a 6-week treatment regimen. These findings extend previous in vitro studies to demonstrate that alcohol has potent effects on vascular endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression, NO production, and vascular function. Consistent with previous reports, these findings confirm that alcohol-induced alterations in the production of reactive nitrogen species play an important role in the pathogenesis of alcohol-mediated tissue effects.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 02/2008; 32(1):148-54. · 3.42 Impact Factor