Animal models of pulmonary hypertension: Rho kinase inhibition

Laboratory of Genetics, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology (Impact Factor: 2.27). 06/2012; 109(3):67-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2012.05.009
Source: PubMed


Pulmonary Hypertension is a terminology encompassing a range of etiologically different pulmonary vascular diseases. The most common is that termed pulmonary arterial hypertension or PAH; a rare but often fatal disease characterized by a mean pulmonary arterial pressure of >25 mmHg. PAH is associated with a complex etiology highlighted by core characteristics of increased pulmonary vascular resistance and elevation of mean pulmonary artery pressure. When sustained, pulmonary vascular remodeling occurs and eventually patients pass away due to right heart failure. Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction is an early event occurring in pulmonary hypertension due to chronic exposure to hypoxia. While the underlying mechanisms of hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction may be controversial, a role for RhoA/Rho kinase mediated regulation of intracellular Ca(2+) has been recently identified. Further study suggests that RhoA may have an integral role in other pathophysiological processes such as cell proliferation and migration occurring in all forms of PH. Indeed Rho proteins are known to play essential roles in actin cytoskeleton organization in all eukaryotic cells and thus Rho and Rho-GTPases are implicated in fundamental cellular processes such as cellular proliferation, migration, adhesion, apoptosis and gene expression. This review focuses on providing an overview of the role of RhoA/Rho kinase in currently available animal models of pulmonary hypertension.

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    ABSTRACT: Pulmonary hypertension is a complex, progressive condition arising from a variety of genetic and pathogenic causes. Patients present with a spectrum of histologic and pathophysiological features, likely reflecting the diversity in underlying pathogenesis. It is widely recognized that structural alterations in the vascular wall contribute to all forms of pulmonary hypertension. Features characteristic of the remodeled vasculature in patients with pulmonary hypertension include increased stiffening of the elastic proximal pulmonary arteries, thickening of the intimal and/or medial layer of muscular arteries, development of vaso-occlusive lesions, and the appearance of cells expressing smooth muscle-specific markers in normally non-muscular small diameter vessels, resulting from proliferation and migration of pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells and cellular transdifferentiation. The development of several animal models of pulmonary hypertension has provided the means to explore the mechanistic underpinnings of pulmonary vascular remodeling, although none of the experimental models currently used entirely replicates the pulmonary arterial hypertension observed in patients. Herein, we provide an overview of the histological abnormalities observed in humans with pulmonary hypertension and in preclinical models and discuss insights gained regarding several key signaling pathways contributing to the remodeling process. In particular, we will focus on the roles of ion homeostasis, endothelin-1, serotonin, bone morphogenetic proteins, Rho kinase, and hypoxia-inducible factor 1 in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle and endothelial cells, highlighting areas of cross-talk between these pathways and potentials for therapeutic targeting.
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the development and progression of pulmonary hypertension (PH) remains imperative if we are to successfully improve the quality of life and life span of patients with the disease. A whole plethora of mechanisms are associated with the development and progression of PH. Such complexity makes it difficult to isolate one particular pathway to target clinically. Changes in intracellular free calcium concentration, the most common intracellular second messenger, can have significant impact in defining the pathogenic mechanisms leading to its development and persistence. Signaling pathways leading to the elevation of [Ca(2+)](cyt) contribute to pulmonary vasoconstriction, excessive proliferation of smooth muscle cells and ultimately pulmonary vascular remodeling. This current review serves to summarize the some of the most recent advances in the regulation of calcium during pulmonary hypertension.
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    ABSTRACT: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a complex and progressive disease of the pulmonary vasculature that requires targeted medical management for symptom control and improved survival. Use of targeted treatments requires specialized training. In less than 2 decades, multiple targeted treatment options, including oral, inhaled, and infused therapies, have been introduced and many more therapeutic developments are in the pipeline. Agents under investigation include new medications that target established pathways as well as those that target recently identified underlying mechanisms of PAH. In the next few years, multiple agents are anticipated to receive approval and will further shape the evolving treatment domain of PAH.
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