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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2008 Dec;39(6):706-16. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2007-0368OC. Epub 2008 Jun 27.

Human herpesvirus-8 infection of primary pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine, University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80207, USA.


Human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8) is the causative agent of Kaposi's sarcoma and is associated with the angioproliferative disorders primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease. Evidence of HHV-8 infection within the pulmonary vasculature of patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH) has been described. We hypothesize that HHV-8 infection of pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells results in an apoptotic-resistant phenotype characteristic of severe pulmonary arterial hypertension. Our objective was to investigate the ability of HHV-8 to infect human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells in vitro and characterize the phenotypic effect of this infection. Human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells were exposed to HHV-8 using two methods (direct virus and co-culture technique). The presence of lytic and latent infection was confirmed. Changes in endothelial cell gene and protein expression and effects on cellular apoptosis were measured. HHV-8 can both lytically and latently infect primary human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells in vitro. HHV-8 infection results in significant changes in gene expression, including alterations of pathways important to cellular apoptosis. HHV-8 infection also alters expression of genes integral to the bone morphogenic protein pathway, including down-regulation of bone morphogenic protein-4. Other genes previously implicated in the development of PAH are affected by HHV-8 infection, and cells infected with HHV-8 are resistant to apoptosis.

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