Enhanced signaling via RTKs in pulmonary hypertension (PH) impedes current treatment options because it perpetuates proliferation and apoptosis resistance of pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). Here, we demonstrated hyperphosphorylation of multiple RTKs in diseased human vessels and increased activation of their common downstream effector phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K), which thus emerged as an attractive therapeutic target. Systematic characterization of class IA catalytic PI3K isoforms identified p110α as the key regulator of pathogenic signaling pathways and PASMC responses (proliferation, migration, survival) downstream of multiple RTKs. Smooth muscle cell–specific genetic ablation or pharmacological inhibition of p110α prevented onset and progression of pulmonary hypertension (PH) as well as right heart hypertrophy in vivo and even reversed established vascular remodeling and PH in various animal models. These effects were attributable to both inhibition of vascular proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Since this pathway is abundantly activated in human disease, p110α represents a central target in PH.
Eva M. Berghausen, Wiebke Janssen, Marius Vantler, Leoni L. Gnatzy-Feik, Max Krause, Arnica Behringer, Christine Joseph, Mario Zierden, Henrik ten Freyhaus, Anna Klinke, Stephan Baldus, Miguel A. Alcazar, Rajkumar Savai, Soni Savai Pullamsetti, Dickson W.L. Wong, Peter Boor, Jean J. Zhao, Ralph T. Schermuly, Stephan Rosenkranz
Multiple growth factors contribute to PAH and hPASMC proliferation.