Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a complex disorder that causes significant morbidity and mortality. Mounting evidence suggests that metabolic derangements account for the pathophysiology underlying PH. This proposal focuses peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR?), a major metabolic regulator that is decreased PH. Hypoxia and other causes of PH decrease PPAR? expression which increases NADPH oxidase 4 (Nox4) expression and activity. Nox4 generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) that contribute to pulmonary vascular cell proliferation and PH pathogenesis. On the other hand, stimulating PPAR? reduces the expression and activity of Nox4 and attenuates hypoxia-induced vascular remodeling, right ventricular hypertrophy, and PH. The mechanisms by which PPAR? modulates PH continue to be defined. Preliminary data suggest that reductions in PPAR? reduce the expression of PPAR? coactivator 1 alpha (PGC1?) and uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), proteins that regulate mitochondrial (MT) biogenesis and reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, respectively. The proposed studies will test the hypothesis that PPAR? depletion reduces pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell (PASMC) PGC1? and UCP2 and stimulates MT dysfunction and ROS production. The investigators further postulate that MT ROS activate the ERK 1/2-NF-?B axis to increase Nox4 expression and H2O2 generation which promote PASMC proliferation, pulmonary vascular remodeling, and PH. To test this hypothesis, Specific Aim 1 will explore the role of reduced PPAR? activity in MT dysfunction, Nox4 induction, and PASMC proliferation using complementary in vitro and in vivo models. Genetic or pharmacological reductions in PPAR? activity will be used in human PASMC in vitro, and inducible, smooth muscle-targeted PPAR? knockout mice (smPPAR?KO) will be employed in vivo.
Specific Aim 2 will examine the role of reductions in PPAR? in hypoxia-induced alterations in PGC1? and UCP2, MT dysfunction, Nox4 induction, and PASMC proliferation. In vitro and in vivo gain and loss of PPAR? function models will be exposed to well characterized control or hypoxic conditions, and MT function, ROS production, and PASMC proliferation will be determined. Hypoxia-induced PH will be assessed with measures of right ventricular systolic pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy, and ventricular function (echocardiography). PASMC proliferation will be examined with immunohistochemistry for proliferating cellular nuclear antigen and morphometric analysis of lung sections stained for ?-smooth muscle actin. The ability of full and partial (10- nitro-oleic acid) PPAR? ligands to attenuate hypoxic proliferatin and PH will be tested. Critical observations will be confirmed in PASMC isolated from patients with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. The proposed studies, conducted by a productive and collaborative research team, will advance understanding of the role of PPAR? in regulating PASMC phenotype during health and disease and identify novel strategies by which targeting PPAR? can interrupt PH pathogenesis.

Public Health Relevance

The pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension (PH) is incompletely understood, and despite existing therapies, this disorder continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality. This proposal focuses on the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma within cells of the lung vasculature and how reductions in this receptor contribute to the pathology of PH. The successful completion of the proposed studies has the potential to identify novel therapeutic targets to reduce PH morbidity and mortality.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Respiratory Integrative Biology and Translational Research Study Section (RIBT)
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Xiao, Lei
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Emory University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
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United States
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