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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012 Apr 15;302(8):H1546-62. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00944.2011. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

New mechanisms of pulmonary arterial hypertension: role of Ca²⁺ signaling.

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Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep, and Allergy, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a severe and progressive disease that usually culminates in right heart failure and death if left untreated. Although there have been substantial improvements in our understanding and significant advances in the management of this disease, there is a grim prognosis for patients in the advanced stages of PAH. A major cause of PAH is increased pulmonary vascular resistance, which results from sustained vasoconstriction, excessive pulmonary vascular remodeling, in situ thrombosis, and increased pulmonary vascular stiffness. In addition to other signal transduction pathways, Ca(2+) signaling in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) plays a central role in the development and progression of PAH because of its involvement in both vasoconstriction, through its pivotal effect of PASMC contraction, and vascular remodeling, through its stimulatory effect on PASMC proliferation. Altered expression, function, and regulation of ion channels and transporters in PASMCs contribute to an increased cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration and enhanced Ca(2+) signaling in patients with PAH. This review will focus on the potential pathogenic role of Ca(2+) mobilization, regulation, and signaling in the development and progression of PAH.

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