Inhibition of Overactive Transforming Growth Factor-β Signaling by Prostacyclin Analogs in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

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The heterozygous loss of function mutations in the Type II bone morphogenetic protein receptor (BMPR-II), a member of the transforming growth factor (TGF-β) receptor family, underlies the majority of familial cases of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The TGF-β1 pathway is activated in PAH, and inhibitors of TGF-β1 signaling prevent the development and progression of PAH in experimental models. However, the effects of currently used therapies on the TGF-β pathway remain unknown. Prostacyclin analogs comprise the first line of treatment for clinical PAH. We hypothesized that these agents effectively decrease the activity of the TGF-β1 pathway. Beraprost sodium (BPS), a prostacyclin analog, selectively inhibits proliferation in a dose-dependent manner in murine primary pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) harboring a pathogenicBMPR2nonsense mutation in both the presence and absence of TGF-β1 stimulation. Our study demonstrates that this agent inhibits TGF-β1-induced SMAD-dependent and SMAD-independent signaling via a protein kinase A-dependent pathway by reducing the phosphorylation of SMADs 2 and 3 and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase proteins. Finally, in a monocrotaline-induced rat model of PAH, which is associated with increased TGF-β signaling, this study confirms that treprostinil, a stable prostacyclin analog, inhibits the TGF-β pathway by reducing SMAD3 phosphorylation. Taken together, these data suggest that prostacyclin analogs inhibit dysregulated TGF-β signalingin vitroandin vivo, and reduce BMPR-II-mediated proliferation defects in mutant mice PASMCs.

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