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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 Oct 5;426(4):486-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.08.106. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Viral Toll Like Receptor activation of pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cells results in endothelin-1 generation; relevance to pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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Cardiothoracic Pharmacology, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, Dovehouse Street, London, United Kingdom.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare but fatal condition in which raised pulmonary vascular resistance leads to right heart failure and death. Endothelin-1 is a potent endogenous vasoconstrictor, which is considered to be central to many of the events that lead to PAH, and is an important therapeutic target in the treatment of the condition. In many cases of PAH, the aetiology is unknown but inflammation is increasingly thought to play an important role and viruses have been implicated in the development of disease. The Toll Like Receptors (TLRs) play a key role in innate immune responses by initiating specific anti-bacterial and anti-viral defences in recognition of signature molecular motifs on the surface of invading pathogens. In this study, we set out to examine the expression of bacterial and viral TLRs in human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells and to establish whether their activation could be relevant to PAH. We found that the viral TLR3 and bacterial TLRs 4 and 6 were most abundantly expressed in human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells. Using specific TLR ligands, we found that activation of TLRs 3 and 4 resulted in IL-8 release by human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells but that only TLR3 stimulation resulted in IP10 and endothelin-1 release. These data suggest that human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells express significant levels of viral TLR3 and respond to its activation by releasing endothelin-1. This may have importance in understanding the association between viruses and the development of PAH.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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