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Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2012 Aug;237(8):956-65. doi: 10.1258/ebm.2012.011382. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Caveolin-1 expression during the progression of pulmonary hypertension.

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Section of Pediatric Cardiology, Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA.


Caveolin-1 plays a pivotal role in maintaining vascular health. Progressive loss of endothelial caveolin-1 and activation of proliferative and anti-apoptotic pathways occur before the onset of monocrotaline (MCT)-induced pulmonary hypertension (PH), and the rescue of endothelial caveolin-1 attenuates PH. Recently, we reported endothelial caveolin-1 loss associated with enhanced expression of caveolin-1 in smooth muscle cells (SMC) with subsequent neointima formation in human PH. To examine whether the loss of endothelial caveolin-1 followed by an enhanced expression in SMC is a sequential event in the progression of PH, we studied rats at two and four weeks post-MCT. Right ventricular (RV) systolic pressure, RV hypertrophy, pulmonary vascular histology, and the expression of caveolin-1 and endothelial membrane proteins (platelet/endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 [PECAM-1], both α and β subunits of soluble guanylate cyclase [sGC]), von Willebrand factor (vWF), smooth muscle α-actin, proliferative and anti-apoptotic factors (PY-STAT3 and Bcl-xL) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2 in the lungs were examined. PH was accompanied by a progressive loss of endothelial caveolin-1, activation of PY-STAT3, increased Bcl-xL expression and vascular remodeling at two and four weeks post-MCT. Loss of PECAM-1 and sGC (both subunits) paralleled that of caveolin-1, whereas vWF was well preserved at two weeks post-MCT. At four weeks post-MCT, 29% of the arteries showed a loss of vWF in addition to endothelial caveolin-1, and 70% of these arteries exhibited enhanced expression of caveolin-1 in SMC; and there was increased expression and activity of MMP2. In conclusion, MCT-induced endothelial injury disrupts endothelial cell membrane with a progressive loss of endothelial caveolin-1, and the activation of proliferative and antiapoptotic pathways leading to PH. Subsequent extensive endothelial cell damage results in enhanced expression of caveolin-1 in SMC. In addition, there is a progressive increase in MMP2 expression and activity. These alterations may further facilitate cell proliferation, matrix degradation and cell migration, thus contributing to the progression of the disease.

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