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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Feb;98(2):732-8. Epub 2004 Oct 8.

Egr-1 antisense oligonucleotides inhibit hypoxia-induced proliferation of pulmonary artery adventitial fibroblasts.

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Developmental Lung Biology Laboratory,Univ. of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 4200 E. 9th Ave., Box B131, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


In most mammalian species, chronic exposure to hypoxia leads to pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling. The adventitial fibroblast, because of its ability to proliferate in response to hypoxia, is thought to be a critical cell in the remodeling process. However, the transcription factors driving hypoxia-induced fibroblast proliferation have yet to be elucidated. The early growth response-1 (Egr-1) transcription factor has been shown to be upregulated by hypoxia in pulmonary artery adventitial fibroblasts. We therefore hypothesized that Egr-1 is directly involved in hypoxia-induced adventitial fibroblast proliferation. Immunohistochemical analysis of in vivo lung tissue from animals exposed to chronic hypoxia revealed increased expression of Egr-1 in the pulmonary artery fibroblasts vs. expression shown in normoxic controls. In fibroblasts cultured from chronically hypoxic animals, exposure to 1% oxygen upregulated Egr-1 protein and cell proliferation. To evaluate the role of Egr-1 in hypoxia-induced proliferation, we employed an Egr-1 antisense strategy. Addition of antisense Egr-1 oligonucleotides, but not sense oligonucleotides, attenuated the hypoxia-induced upregulation of Egr-1 protein and reduced hypoxia-induced DNA synthesis by 50%. Cell proliferation was also significantly inhibited by the addition of antisense Egr-1 oligonucleotides but not the sense oligonucleotides. In addition, hypoxia-induced upregulations of cyclin D and epidermal growth factor receptor were attenuated by Egr-1 antisense oligonucleotides. We conclude that Egr-1 protein expression is very sensitive to upregulation by hypoxia in pulmonary artery adventitial fibroblasts and that it plays an important role in the autonomous growth phenotype induced by hypoxia in these cells.

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