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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 May;306(9):H1314-23. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00869.2013. Epub 2014 Mar 7.

Reduction of endoplasmic reticulum stress by 4-phenylbutyric acid prevents the development of hypoxia-induced pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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Department of Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Medicine, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan; and.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by vasoconstriction and vascular remodeling of the pulmonary artery (PA). Recently, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and inappropriate adaptation through the unfolded protein response (UPR) have been disclosed in various types of diseases. Here we examined whether ER stress is involved in the pathogenesis of PAH. Four weeks of chronic normobaric hypoxia increased right ventricular (RV) systolic pressure by 63% compared with that in normoxic controls and induced RV hypertrophy and medial thickening of the PA in C57BL/6J mice. Treatment with 4-phenylbutyric acid (4-PBA), a chemical chaperone, significantly reduced RV systolic pressure by 30%, attenuated RV hypertrophy and PA muscularization, and increased total running distance in a treadmill test by 70% in hypoxic mice. The beneficial effects of 4-PBA were associated with suppressed expression of inflammatory cytokines and ER stress markers, including Grp78 and Grp94 in the activating transcription factor-6 branch, sXbp1 and Pdi in the inositol-requiring enzyme-1 branch and Atf4 in the PKR-like ER kinase branch, and reduced phosphorylation of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase and eukaryotic translation initiation factor-2α in the lung. The pattern of changes in ER stress and inflammatory markers by 4-PBA in the lung of the PAH model was reproduced in PA smooth muscle cells by chronic stimulation of platelet-derived growth factor-BB or hypoxia. Furthermore, knockdown of each UPR branch sensor activated other branches and promoted proliferation of PA smooth muscle cells. The findings indicate that activation of all branches of the UPR and accompanying inflammation play a major role in the pathogenesis of PAH, and that chemical chaperones are potentially therapeutic agents for PAH.


chemical chaperone; endoplasmic reticulum stress; inflammation; platelet-derived growth factor; pulmonary arterial hypertension; vascular smooth muscle cell

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