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Circ Res. 2003 May 16;92(9):984-91. Epub 2003 Apr 10.

Protective role of angiopoietin-1 in experimental pulmonary hypertension.

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  • 1Terrence Donnelly Research Laboratories, Division of Cardiology, St Michael's Hospital and University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1), a newly discovered ligand of the endothelial-specific tyrosine kinase receptor Tie-2, has been found to promote cell survival, vascular maturation, and stabilization. We hypothesized that Ang-1 gene transfer to the pulmonary microcirculation would improve pulmonary hemodynamics and vascular remodeling in experimental pulmonary hypertension. Rat pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells were transfected with Ang-1 cDNA or null (pFLAG-CMV-1) vector. Syngeneic Fisher 344 rats were treated with monocrotaline (MCT) (75 mg/kg IP) with or without delivery of 5x10(5) Ang-1-transfected cells into the right jugular vein. After 28 days, plasmid-derived Ang-1 mRNA was consistently and robustly detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in lungs from all animals receiving Ang-1 gene therapy. Tie-2 receptor expression was markedly downregulated in rats treated with MCT, and this was partially restored by gene therapy with Ang-1. Animals receiving MCT exhibited 77% mortality by 28 days. In contrast, in pAng-1-treated animals, the 28-day mortality was only 14% (P<0.0001). In addition, right ventricular systolic pressure was reduced from 52+/-1.3 mm Hg in the MCT-treated group to 38+/-1.3 mm Hg by Ang-1 gene transfer (P<0.01), whereas the measurement of right to left ventricular plus septal weight ratio was also reduced from 0.41+/-0.03 to 0.31+/-0.01 (P<0.05). Moreover, MCT resulted in increased apoptosis, mainly in the microvasculature, and reduced endothelial NO synthase mRNA expression, both of which were prevented by Ang-1 gene transfer. Thus, cell-based gene transfer with Ang-1 improved survival and pulmonary hemodynamics in experimental pulmonary hypertension by a mechanism involving the inhibition of apoptosis and protection of the pulmonary microvasculature.

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