Quaternary ammonium salt of U50,488H elicits protective effects against hypoxic pulmonary hypertension

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The present study aimed to investigate the role of quaternary ammonium salt of U50,488H (Q-U50,488H) in hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (HPH) and underlying mechanisms involved. A HPH animal model was established in rats under hypoxia and the mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP) and right ventricular pressure (RVP) were measured. Relaxation of the pulmonary artery in response to Q-U50,488H was determined. In addition, expression and activity of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase (eNOS) and inducible NO synthase (iNOS) with NO content, Akt expression, total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC), and gp91phox were evaluated. Cell viability was determined by the cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) assay. We demonstrated that both the molecular weight and solubility of Q-U50,488H were higher than that of U50,488H. Q-U50,488H reduced mPAP and RVP and prevented the development of HPH. Moreover, Q-U50,488H relaxed the pulmonary arteries from both normal and HPH rats in a time-dependent manner. Under hypoxic conditions, Q-U50,488H significantly increased Akt phosphorylation, eNOS phosphorylation, NO content in serum, and T-AOC in pulmonary arteries of HPH rats. In addition, the activity of eNOS was elevated, but the activity of iNOS was reduced when Q-U50,488H was given under hypoxia. Q-U50,488H significantly counteracted the increase of gp91phox expression in pulmonary arteries under hypoxia. In addition, in vitro studies suggested that Q-U50,488H inhibited pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) proliferation under hypoxic conditions and that the effects of Q-U50,488H were blocked by nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI). Thus, our results provided evidence that Q-U50,488H plays a protective role against HPH via κ-opioid receptor stimulation.

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