Regional Variability in preproEndothelin-1 Gene Expression in Sheep Pulmonary Artery and Lung during the Onset of Air-induced Chronic Pulmonary Hypertension: Participation of Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells

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We investigated preproendothelin-1 (ppET-1) gene expression in the main and midregion pulmonary artery, and peripheral lung from control sheep and from animals during the development of the structural and functional changes of air-induced chronic pulmonary hypertension (CPH). Measurement of ET-1 in lung lymph (n = 7) at 1, 4, 8, and 12 d of continuous air embolization (CAE) showed a significant increase from day 4 compared with controls (n = 4). A semiquantitative reverse transcription PCR for ppET-1 gene expression was developed using ovine-specific primers. Control sheep showed strikingly fewer ppET-1 transcripts in the midregion (22.9 +/- 2.3 ng cDNA equivalents) than in the main pulmonary artery and lung (736.0 +/- 263.7 and 705.5 +/- 125.7, respectively). Smooth muscle cells (SMC) isolated from the main and midregion artery of control sheep confirmed these findings and showed higher levels of intracellular ET-1 synthesis in the main versus the midregion artery. Differences in gene expression persisted during CAE. In main pulmonary artery and lung, ppET-1 transcripts fell to < 1% of controls. However, transcripts in the midregion artery showed a gradual increase. Coincubation of SMC from the midregion with ET-1 plus TGF-beta resulted in an increase in intracellular big ET-1 and a decrease in SMC from the main artery. We conclude that SMC from the main and midregion pulmonary artery are phenotypically different and suggest that local synthesis of ET-1 and TGF-beta, and increased levels of ET-1 in lung lymph, regulate ppET-1 gene expression and synthesis in arterial SMC during the development of air-induced CPH. (J. Clin. Invest. 1998. 101:1389-1397.)

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