An essential component of acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is that injury of the endothelial barrier of pulmonary microvessels results in persistent increase in lung vascular permeability to protein and intractable protein-rich edema formation. Compared to young patients, the incidence of ALI/ARDS resulting from sepsis in elderly patients is as much as 19-fold greater and the mortality rate is up to 10-fold greater. However, the underlying causes are poorly understood. Also crucially little is known how aging influences mechanisms of endothelial regeneration and restoration of vascular homeostasis following sepsis challenge. We have recently shown that the Forkhead transcription factor FoxM1 is a key reparative factor responsible for endothelial regeneration. However, our new Supporting Data presented here show that FoxM1 expression and the endogenous endothelial regeneration program were severely impaired in aged lungs following inflammatory lung injury. We observed that endothelial hypoxia-inducible factor HIF-1a is the critical mediator of FoxM1 expression through transcriptional control of SDF-1a which activates CXCR4 receptor leading to activation of the GPCR-dependent p110gamma isoform of PI3K, and that inhibition of the oxygen sensors HIF prolyl hydroxylase (PHDs) re-induced FoxM1 expression and activated the endothelial regeneration program in aged lungs. Thus, we hypothesize that impaired HIF- 1a->FoxM1 signaling secondary to activation of PHD2 in aged lungs is responsible for the severely defective endothelial regeneration in these lungs, and activation of this fundamental reparative pathway through PHD2 inhibition and CXCR4 activation is a potential novel therapeutic approach for reversing lung microvessel leakiness and improving survival of elderly ALI/ARDS patients. The proposed studies address the following Specific Aims.
In Aim #1, we will address the role of impaired HIF-1a->FoxM1 signaling in aged lungs as a crucial factor responsible for severely impaired endothelial regeneration and restoration of lung vascular homeostasis following sepsis challenge.
In Aim #2, we will delineate the signaling mechanisms underlying severely defective endothelial regeneration in aged lungs following sepsis challenge.
In Aim #3, we will determine the role of HIF-1a stabilization through PHD inhibition in activating endothelial regeneration in aged lungs. We will also address the potential clinical relevance of our findings in animal models to humans;thereby determine the therapeutic implications of inhibition of PHD2 and activation of CXCR4 in treatment of ALI/ARDS of elderly patients. With these comprehensive studies, we will delineate the fundamental signaling mechanisms of impaired endothelial regeneration in aged lungs, and identify therapeutic targets to activate this fundamental intrinsic HIF-1a->FoxM1-dependent mechanisms to repair leaky lung microvessels for the treatment of ALI/ARDS in elderly patients.
Acute lung injury (ALI) and in its more severe form, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) bears the hallmark of inflammatory infiltration and protein-rich lung edema due to severe disruption of lung vascular endothelial barrier. Compared to young patients, the incidence of ALI/ARDS resulting from sepsis in elderly patients is as much as 19-fold greater, and the mortality rate of elderly ALI/ARDS patients is up to 10-fold greater. The central objective of the proposed studies is to delineate the molecular mechanisms of defective endothelial regeneration in aged lungs, and thereby provide novel therapeutic strategies by which the dormant endothelial regeneration program can be activated in these lungs to restore lung fluid balance and improve survival of elderly ALI/ARDS patients.