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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2014 Sep;51(3):413-25. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2013-0355OC.

Nuclear factor κB inhibition reduces lung vascular lumen obliteration in severe pulmonary hypertension in rats.

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1 Victoria Johnson Center for Lung Research, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.


NF-κB and IL-6, a NF-κB downstream mediator, play a central role in the inflammatory response of tissues. We aimed to determine the role of the classical NF-κB pathway in severe pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) induced by SU5416 and chronic hypoxia (SuHx) in rats. Tissue samples from patients with idiopathic PAH (iPAH) and control subjects were investigated. SuHx rats were treated from Days 1 to 3, 1 to 21, and 29 to 42 with the NF-κB inhibitor pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC) and/or from Days 1 to 21 with anti-IL-6 antibody. Nuclear staining for NF-κB, an indicator of the activation of the classical NF-κB pathway, was detected in pulmonary arterial lesions of patients with iPAH and SuHx rats. NF-κB inhibition with PDTC prevented and reduced pulmonary arterial obliteration without reducing muscularization. However, the elevated lung levels of IL-6 were not reduced in PDTC-treated SuHx animals. PDTC treatment prevented or reduced apoptosis of pulmonary artery wall cells and pulmonary arterial obliteration. IL-6 inhibition had only a partial effect on apoptosis and obliteration. Pulmonary arterial media wall thickness was not affected by any of these treatments. Preventive and therapeutic PDTC treatment promoted immune regulation by increasing the number of perivascular CD4(+) T cells, in particular regulatory T cells (early treatment), and by reducing the number of perivascular CD8(+) T lymphocytes and CD45RA(+) B lymphocytes. Therapeutic PDTC treatment further preserved right ventricular function in SuHx animals. Inhibition of NF-κB may represent a therapeutic option for pulmonary arterial obliteration via reduced vessel wall cell apoptosis and improved regulation of the immune system.


apoptosis; inflammation; lymphocytes; proliferation; pulmonary hypertension

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