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Eur Respir J. 2008 Jan;31(1):135-9. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00105807.

Enhancement of pulmonary vascular remodelling and inflammatory genes with VIP gene deletion.

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Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, State University of New York Health Sciences Center, Stony Brook, NY 11784-8172, USA.


The pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) remains poorly understood. The present authors recently reported that mice with vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) gene disruption show a spontaneous phenotype of PAH, with pulmonary vascular remodelling and lung inflammation. To explore the underlying molecular mechanisms in this model, it was examined whether absence of the VIP gene might alter the expression of additional genes involved in the pathogenesis of PAH, as single-gene deletions, in the absence of hypoxia, rarely result in significant pulmonary vascular remodelling. Lung tissue from mice with targeted disruption of the vasoactive intestinal peptide gene (VIP(-/-) mice) and from control mice was subjected to whole-genome gene microarray analysis, and the results validated with quantitative, real-time PCR. Lungs from VIP(-/-) mice showed a wide range of significant gene expression alterations, including overexpression of genes that promote pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation, underexpression of antiproliferative genes and upregulation of pro-inflammatory genes. In conclusion, vasoactive intestinal peptide is a pivotal modulator of genes controlling the pulmonary vasculature, its deficiency alone resulting in gene expression alterations that can readily explain both the vascular remodelling and associated inflammatory response in pulmonary arterial hypertension. The present findings shed more light on the molecular mechanisms of pulmonary arterial hypertension, and could lead to better understanding of the pathogenesis of human pulmonary arterial hypertension, and hence to improved therapy.

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