We aimed to determine whether LR11 (low-density lipoprotein receptor with 11 binding repeats) is a potential key regulator of smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation during the progression of hypoxia-induced medial thickening in mice and whether sLR11 (soluble LR11) can serve as a biomarker in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension.Approach and Results—
The role of LR11 in pulmonary arterial hypertension was investigated using mouse and cell models of induced hypoxia. The expression of LR11 and of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α was significantly increased in lung tissues from C57Bl/6 mice after 3 weeks of exposure to hypoxia compared with normoxia. Serum sLR11 levels were also increased. Physiological and histochemical analyses showed that increased right ventricular systolic pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy, and medial thickening induced under hypoxia in wild-type mice were attenuated in LR11−/− mice. The proliferation rates stimulated by hypoxia or platelet-derived growth factor-BB were attenuated in SMC derived from LR11−/− mice, compared with those from wild-type mice. Exogenous sLR11 protein increased the proliferation rates of SMC from wild-type mice. The expression of LR11 and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α was increased in cultured SMC under hypoxic conditions, and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α knockdown almost abolished the induction of LR11. Serum sLR11 levels were significantly higher in patients with, rather than without, pulmonary arterial hypertension. sLR11 levels positively correlated with pulmonary vascular resistance and mean pulmonary arterial pressure.Conclusions—
LR11 regulated SMC proliferation during the progression of hypoxia-induced medial thickening in mice. The findings obtained from mice, together with those in humans, indicate that sLR11 could serve as a novel biomarker that reflects the pathophysiology of proliferating medial SMC in pulmonary arterial hypertension.