Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death worldwide. CVD comprise a range of diseases affecting the functionality of the heart and blood vessels, including acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and pulmonary hypertension (PH). Despite their different causative mechanisms, both AMI and PH involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels, hypoxia, and tissue infarction. The endothelium plays a pivotal role in the development of CVD. Disruption of the normal homeostasis of endothelia, alterations in the blood vessel structure, and abnormal functionality are essential factors in the onset and progression of both AMI and PH. An emerging theory proposes that pathological blood vessel responses and endothelial dysfunction develop as a result of an abnormal endothelial metabolism. It has been suggested that, in CVD, endothelial cell metabolism switches to higher glycolysis, rather than oxidative phosphorylation, as the main source of ATP, a process designated as the Warburg effect. The evidence of these alterations suggests that understanding endothelial metabolism and mitochondrial function may be central to unveiling fundamental mechanisms underlying cardiovascular pathogenesis and to identifying novel critical metabolic biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Here, we review the role of the endothelium in the regulation of vascular homeostasis and we detail key aspects of endothelial cell metabolism. We also describe recent findings concerning metabolic endothelial cell alterations in acute myocardial infarction and pulmonary hypertension, their relationship with disease pathogenesis and we discuss the future potential of pharmacological modulation of cellular metabolism in the treatment of cardiopulmonary vascular dysfunction. Although targeting endothelial cell metabolism is still in its infancy, it is a promising strategy to restore normal endothelial functions and thus forestall or revert the development of CVD in personalized multi-hit interventions at the metabolic level.
Smolders, V. F., Zodda, E., Quax, P. H. A., Carini, M., Barberà, J. A., Thomson, T. M., … Cascante, M. (2019). Metabolic alterations in cardiopulmonary vascular dysfunction. Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences. Frontiers Media S.A. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmolb.2018.00120