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Pulm Circ. 2012 Oct;2(4):434-42. doi: 10.4103/2045-8932.105031.

New models of pulmonary hypertension based on VEGF receptor blockade-induced endothelial cell apoptosis.

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1
Pulmonary Division, Stanford University, USA.

Abstract

In spite of treatment, severe angioproliferative pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) remains a disease characterized by great morbidity and shortened survival. New treatment strategies for patients with PAH are needed, and after drug development, preclinical studies are best conducted in animal models which present with pulmonary angio-obliterative disease and right heart failure. A rat model of severe pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure, described a decade ago, continues to be investigated and provide insight into the nature of the lung vascular lesions and mechanisms of cardiac adaptation to an altered lung circulation. This rat model is based on the combination of VEGF receptor blockade with Su5416 and chronic hypoxia; use of this pulmonary hypertension induction strategy led to developing the concept of apoptosis-dependent compensatory vascular cell growth. Although, often employed in experimental designs, chronic hypoxia is not necessary for the development of angio-obliterative pulmonary hypertension. Left pneumonectomy combined with Su5416 also results in severe pulmonary hypertension in normoxic conditions. Similarly, the immune insufficiency component of severe PAH can be modeled in athymic rats (lacking T-lymphocytes). In these rats housed under normoxic conditions, treatment with the VEGFR receptor blocker results in angioproliferative pulmonary hypertension; cardiopulmonary disease in these animals can be prevented by immune reconstitution of regulatory T-cells (Tregs). Finally, chronic hypoxia can be replaced with another stimulator of HIF-1α: Ovalbumin (Ova). Immunization of rats with Ova increases lung tissue HIF-1α protein expression, and in Su5416-treated rats causes lethal pulmonary hypertension. Finally, we postulate that these models may also be useful for "reverse translation"; that is, the mechanisms of lung vascular cell death and growth and the modifying influences of immune and bone marrow cells that have been identified in the Su5416 VEGFR inhibitor models can be informative about heretofore undescribed processes in human PAH.

KEYWORDS:

Su5416; apoptosis; chronic hypoxia; pulmonary hypertension; regulatory/T-cells

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