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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2012 Nov;47(5):679-87. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2012-0077OC. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

Severe pulmonary arterial hypertension induced by SU5416 and ovalbumin immunization.

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Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Division and Victoria Johnson Center for Obstructive Lung Diseases, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.


The combination of chronic hypoxia and treatment of rats with the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor blocker, SU5416, induces pulmonary angio-obliteration, resulting in severe pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Inflammation is thought to contribute to the pathology of PAH. Allergic inflammation caused by ovalbumin (OVA) immunization causes muscularization of pulmonary arteries, but not severe PAH. Whether disturbance of the immune system and allergic inflammation in the setting of lung endothelial cell apoptosis causes PAH is unknown. We investigated the effects of OVA-allergic inflammation on the development of PAH initiated by VEGF blockade-induced lung endothelial cell apoptosis. OVA-immunized rats were treated with SU5416 to induce pulmonary vascular endothelial cell apoptosis. The combination of OVA and SU5416 treatment resulted in severe angio-obilterative PAH, accompanied by increased IL-6 expression in the lungs. c-Kit(+) and Sca-1(+) cells were found in and around the lung vascular lesions. Pan-caspase inhibiton, dexamethasone treatment, and depletion of B-lymphocytes using an anti-CD20 antibody suppressed this remodeling. OVA immunization also increased lung tissue hypoxia-induced factor-1α and VEGF expression. Our results also suggest that the increased expression of hypoxia-induced factor-1α and IL-6 induced by the allergic lung inflammation may be a component of the pathogenesis of PAH.

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