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The reversal of pulmonary vascular remodeling through inhibition of p38 MAPK-alpha: a potential novel anti-inflammatory strategy in pulmonary hypertension

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrew FisherORCiD


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The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) system is increasingly recognized as an important inflammatory pathway in systemic vascular disease but its role in pulmonary vascular disease is unclear. Previous in vitro studies suggest p38 MAPK alpha is critical in the proliferation of pulmonary artery fibroblasts, an important step in the pathogenesis of pulmonary vascular remodeling (PVremod). In this study the role of the p38 MAPK pathway was investigated in both in vitro and in vivo models of pulmonary hypertension and human disease. Pharmacological inhibition of p38 MAPK alpha in both chronic hypoxic and monocrotaline rodent models of pulmonary hypertension prevented and reversed the pulmonary hypertensive phenotype. Furthermore, with the use of a novel and clinically available p38 MAPK alpha antagonist, reversal of pulmonary hypertension was obtained in both experimental models. Increased expression of phosphorylated p38 MAPK and p38 MAPK alpha was observed in the pulmonary vasculature from patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, suggesting a role for activation of this pathway in the PVremod A reduction of IL-6 levels in serum and lung tissue was found in the drug-treated animals, suggesting a potential mechanism for this reversal in PVremod. This study suggests that the p38 MAPK and the alpha-isoform plays a pathogenic role in both human disease and rodent models of pulmonary hypertension potentially mediated through IL-6. Selective inhibition of this pathway may provide a novel therapeutic approach that targets both remodeling and inflammatory pathways in pulmonary vascular disease.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Church AC, Martin DH, Wadsworth R, Bryson G, Fisher AJ, Welsh DJ, Peacock AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology

Year: 2015

Volume: 309

Issue: 4

Pages: L333-L347

Print publication date: 01/08/2015

Online publication date: 29/05/2015

Acceptance date: 26/05/2015

ISSN (print): 1040-0605

ISSN (electronic): 1522-1504

Publisher: American Physiological Society


DOI: 10.1152/ajplung.00038.2015


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