Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a life-threatening disease characterized by a progressive narrowing of pulmonary arterioles. Although VEGF is highly expressed in lung of patients with PH and in animal PH models, the involvement of angiogenesis remains elusive. To clarify the pathophysiological function of angiogenesis in PH, we compared the angiogenic response in hypoxia (Hx) and SU5416 (a VEGFR2 inhibitor) plus Hx (SuHx) mouse PH models using 3D imaging. The 3D imaging analysis revealed an angiogenic response in the lung of the Hx-PH, but not of the severer SuHx-PH model. Selective VEGFR2 inhibition with cabozantinib plus Hx in mice also suppressed angiogenic response and exacerbated Hx-PH to the same extent as SuHx. Expression of endothelial proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) increased along with angiogenesis in lung of Hx-PH but not SuHx mice. In pulmonary endothelial cell–specific Ppargc1a-KO mice, the Hx-induced angiogenesis was suppressed, and PH was exacerbated along with increased oxidative stress, cellular senescence, and DNA damage. By contrast, treatment with baicalin, a flavonoid enhancing PGC-1α activity in endothelial cells, ameliorated Hx-PH with increased Vegfa expression and angiogenesis. Pulmonary endothelial PGC-1α–mediated angiogenesis is essential for adaptive responses to Hx and might represent a potential therapeutic target for PH.
Takayuki Fujiwara, Norifumi Takeda, Hironori Hara, Satoshi Ishii, Genri Numata, Hiroyuki Tokiwa, Manami Katoh, Sonoko Maemura, Takaaki Suzuki, Hiroshi Takiguchi, Tomonobu Yanase, Yoshiaki Kubota, Seitaro Nomura, Masaru Hatano, Kazutaka Ueda, Mutsuo Harada, Haruhiro Toko, Eiki Takimoto, Hiroshi Akazawa, Hiroyuki Morita, Satoshi Nishimura, Issei Komuro