Involvement of Neuroinflammation in the Pathogenesis of Monocrotaline-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension

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Abstract

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a devastating disease and its successful treatment remains to be accomplished despite recent advances in pharmacotherapy. It has been proposed that PH be considered as a systemic disease, rather than primarily a disease of the pulmonary vasculature. Consequently, an investigation of the intricate interplay between multiple organs such as brain, vasculature, and lung in PH could lead to the identification of new targets for its therapy. However, little is known about this interplay. This study was undertaken to examine the concept that altered autonomic–pulmonary communication is important in PH pathophysiology. Therefore, we hypothesize that activation of microglial cells in the paraventricular nucleus of hypothalamus and neuroinflammation is associated with increased sympathetic drive and pulmonary pathophysiology contributing to PH. We utilized the monocrotaline rat model for PH and intracerebroventricular administration of minocycline for inhibition of microglial cells activation to investigate this hypothesis. Hemodynamic, echocardiographic, histological, immunohistochemical, and confocal microscopic techniques assessed cardiac and pulmonary function and microglial cells. Monocrotaline treatment caused cardiac and pulmonary pathophysiology associated with PH. There were also increased activated microglial cells and mRNA for proinflammatory cytokines (IL [interleukin]-1β, IL-6, and TNF [tumor necrosis factor]-α) in the paraventricular nucleus. Furthermore, increased sympathetic drive and plasma norepinephrine were observed in rats with PH. Intracerebroventricular infusion of minocycline inhibited all these parameters and significantly attenuated PH. These observations implicate a dysfunctional autonomic–lung communication in the development and progression of PH providing new therapeutic targets, such as neuroinflammation, for PH therapy.

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