Murine models of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) that recapitulate the plexiform and obliterative arteriopathy seen in PAH patients and help in defining the molecular mechanisms involved are missing. Herein, we investigated whether intersectin-1s (ITSN) deficiency and prolonged lung expression of an ITSN fragment with endothelial cell (EC) proliferative potential (EHITSN), present in the lungs of PAH animal models and human patients, induce formation of plexiform/obliterative lesions and defined the molecular mechanisms involved. ITSN-deficient mice (knockout/heterozygous and knockdown) were subjected to targeted lung delivery of EHITSN via liposomes for 20 days. Immunohistochemistry and histological and morphometric analyses revealed a twofold increase in proliferative ECs and a 1.35-fold increase in proliferative α-smooth muscle actin–positive cells in the lungs of ITSN-deficient mice, transduced with the EHITSN relative to wild-type littermates. Treated mice developed severe medial wall hypertrophy, intima proliferation, and various forms of obliterative and plexiform-like lesions in pulmonary arteries, similar to PAH patients. Hemodynamic measurements indicated modest increases in the right ventricular systolic pressure and right ventricle hypertrophy. Transcriptional and protein assays of lung tissue indicated p38MAPK-dependent activation of Elk-1 transcription factor and increased expression of c-Fos gene. This unique murine model of PAH-like plexiform/obliterative arteriopathy induced via a two-hit pathophysiological mechanism without hypoxia provides novel druggable targets to ameliorate and, perhaps, reverse the EC plexiform phenotype in severe human PAH.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine