Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2017 Dec;57(6):733-744. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2016-0418OC.

Targeting Pulmonary Endothelial Hemoglobin α Improves Nitric Oxide Signaling and Reverses Pulmonary Artery Endothelial Dysfunction.

Author information

1 Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, Florida; and.
2 Heart, Lung, Blood, and Vascular Medicine Institute.
3 Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology.
4 Department of Surgery, and.
5 Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Pulmonary hypertension is characterized by pulmonary endothelial dysfunction. Previous work showed that systemic artery endothelial cells (ECs) express hemoglobin (Hb) α to control nitric oxide (NO) diffusion, but the role of this system in pulmonary circulation has not been evaluated. We hypothesized that up-regulation of Hb α in pulmonary ECs contributes to NO depletion and pulmonary vascular dysfunction in pulmonary hypertension. Primary distal pulmonary arterial vascular smooth muscle cells, lung tissue sections from unused donor (control) and idiopathic pulmonary artery (PA) hypertension lungs, and rat and mouse models of SU5416/hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension (PH) were used. Immunohistochemical, immunocytochemical, and immunoblot analyses and transfection, infection, DNA synthesis, apoptosis, migration, cell count, and protein activity assays were performed in this study. Cocultures of human pulmonary microvascular ECs and distal pulmonary arterial vascular smooth muscle cells, lung tissue from control and pulmonary hypertensive lungs, and a mouse model of chronic hypoxia-induced PH were used. Immunohistochemical, immunoblot analyses, spectrophotometry, and blood vessel myography experiments were performed in this study. We find increased expression of Hb α in pulmonary endothelium from humans and mice with PH compared with controls. In addition, we show up-regulation of Hb α in human pulmonary ECs cocultured with PA smooth muscle cells in hypoxia. We treated pulmonary ECs with a Hb α mimetic peptide that disrupts the association of Hb α with endothelial NO synthase, and found that cells treated with the peptide exhibited increased NO signaling compared with a scrambled peptide. Myography experiments using pulmonary arteries from hypoxic mice show that the Hb α mimetic peptide enhanced vasodilation in response to acetylcholine. Our findings reveal that endothelial Hb α functions as an endogenous scavenger of NO in the pulmonary endothelium. Targeting this pathway may offer a novel therapeutic target to increase endogenous levels of NO in PH.


endothelial dysfunction; endothelial nitric oxide synthase; hemoglobin; nitric oxide; pulmonary hypertension

[Available on 2018-12-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center