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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Feb;98(2):715-21.

Hypoxia, leukocytes, and the pulmonary circulation.

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


Data are rapidly accumulating in support of the idea that circulating monocytes and/or mononuclear fibrocytes are recruited to the pulmonary circulation of chronically hypoxic animals and that these cells play an important role in the pulmonary hypertensive process. Hypoxic induction of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, stromal cell-derived factor-1, vascular endothelial growth factor-A, endothelin-1, and tumor growth factor-beta(1) in pulmonary vessel wall cells, either directly or indirectly via signals from hypoxic lung epithelial cells, may be a critical first step in the recruitment of circulating leukocytes to the pulmonary circulation. In addition, hypoxic stress appears to induce release of increased numbers of monocytic progenitor cells from the bone marrow, and these cells may have upregulated expression of receptors for the chemokines produced by the lung circulation, which thus facilitates their specific recruitment to the pulmonary site. Once present, macrophages/fibrocytes may exert paracrine effects on resident pulmonary vessel wall cells stimulating proliferation, phenotypic modulation, and migration of resident fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells. They may also contribute directly to the remodeling process through increased production of collagen and/or differentiation into myofibroblasts. In addition, they could play a critical role in initiating and/or supporting neovascularization of the pulmonary artery vasa vasorum. The expanded vasa network may then act as a conduit for further delivery of circulating mononuclear cells to the pulmonary arterial wall, creating a feedforward loop of pathological remodeling. Future studies will need to determine the mechanisms that selectively induce leukocyte/fibrocyte recruitment to the lung circulation under hypoxic conditions, their direct role in the remodeling process via production of extracellular matrix and/or differentiation into myofibroblasts, their impact on the phenotype of resident smooth muscle cells and adventitial fibroblasts, and their role in the neovascularization observed in hypoxic pulmonary hypertension.

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