Unraveling endothelin-1 induced hypercontractility of human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells from patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension

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Contraction of human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (HPASMC) isolated from pulmonary arterial hypertensive (PAH) and normal (non-PAH) subject lungs was determined and measured with real-time electrical impedance. Treatment of HPASMC with vasoactive peptides, endothelin-1 (ET-1) and bradykinin (BK) but not angiotensin II, induced a temporal decrease in the electrical impedance profile mirroring constrictive morphological change of the cells which typically was more robust in PAH as opposed to non-PAH cells. Inhibition with LIMKi3 and a cofilin targeted motif mimicking cell permeable peptide (MMCPP) had no effect on ET-1 induced HPASMC contraction indicating a negligible role for these actin regulatory proteins. On the other hand, a MMCPP blocking the activity of caldesmon reduced ET-1 promoted contraction pointing to a regulatory role of this protein and its activation pathway in HPASMC contraction. Inhibition of this MEK/ERK/p90RSK pathway, which is an upstream regulator of caldesmon phosphorylation, reduced ET-1 induced cell contraction. While the regulation of ET-1 induced cell contraction was found to be similar in PAH and non-PAH cells, a key difference was the response to pharmacological inhibitors and to siRNA knockdown of Rho kinases (ROCK1/ROCK2). The PAH cells required much higher concentrations of inhibitors to abrogate ET-1 induced contractions and their contraction was not affected by siRNA against either ROCK1 or ROCK2. Lastly, blocking of L-type and T-type Ca2+ channels had no effect on ET-1 or BK induced contraction. However, inhibiting the activity of the sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase blunted ET-1 and BK induced HPASMC contraction in both PAH and non-PAH derived HPASMC. In summary, our findings here together with previous communications illustrate similarities and differences in the regulation PAH and non-PAH smooth muscle cell contraction relating to calcium translocation, RhoA/ROCK signaling and the activity of caldesmon. These findings may provide useful tools in achieving the regulation of the vascular hypercontractility taking place in PAH.




Wilson, J. L., Warburton, R., Taylor, L., Toksoz, D., Hill, N., & Polgar, P. (2018). Unraveling endothelin-1 induced hypercontractility of human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells from patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. PLoS ONE, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195780

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