Tetrandrine prevents monocrotaline-induced pulmonary arterial hypertension in rats through regulation of the protein expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclic guanosine monophosphate-dependent protein kinase type 1

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Abstract

Objective:

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal disease characterized by a persistent elevation of pulmonary artery pressure and ventricular hypertrophy. Tetrandrine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid that can decrease blood pressure, inhibit the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells, and block cardiac hypertrophy, but whether it has a therapeutic effect on PAH remains poorly defined. This study was undertaken to investigate the efficacy of tetrandrine on PAH.

Methods:

Forty-eight male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly and equally divided into four groups. The control group was injected with normal saline; the others were injected with monocrotaline (MCT) to induce PAH, then treated with saline, tetrandrine, and vardenafil, respectively, from day 21 to day 42. On day 43, we measured the mean pulmonary artery pressure under general anesthesia, dissected the rat, and calculated the right ventricular hypertrophy index [right ventricle/(left ventricle plus septum)]. Later we observed the changes in the pulmonary vascular wall; measured the expression of cyclic guanosine monophosphate-dependent protein kinase type 1 and inducible nitric oxide synthase; measured the levels of superoxide dismutase, glutathione, malondialdehyde, and catalase; and then compared the results among groups.

Results:

Compared with the MCT group, rats treated with tetrandrine had attenuated mean pulmonary artery pressure (20.48 ± 1.49 vs 30.07 ± 1.51; P < .01) and right ventricular hypertrophy index (49.19 ± 2.45 vs 68.50 ± 1.95; P < .01), inhibited proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells, and improved endothelial function. Tetrandrine also upregulated the expression of protein kinase type 1 (90.86 ± 1.95 vs 67.34 ± 1.50; P < .01); downregulated the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (74.76 ± 1.48 vs 80.19 ± 0.28; P < .01); increased levels of superoxide dismutase (245.54 ± 12.98 vs 166.16 ± 21.42; P < .01), glutathione (0.699 ± 0.032 vs 0.514 ± 0.056; P < .01), and catalase (32.13 ± 2.33 vs 27.19 ± 2.72; P < .01); and decreased malondialdehyde (1.027 ± 0.039 vs 1.462 ± 0.055; P < .01).

Conclusions:

Tetrandrine alleviated MCT-induced PAH through regulation of nitric oxide signaling pathway and antioxidant and antiproliferation effects.

Clinical Relevance:

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a fatal cardiovascular disease. Proliferation of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells, endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and inflammation promote the development of pulmonary hypertension. Current therapies for PAH are limited, mostly designed to reduce pulmonary arterial resistance by inducing vasodilation. Tetrandrine, which was isolated from the root of Stephania tetrandra, was recognized to inhibit proliferation and to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiallergic, and antifibrogenic activities. Whether tetrandrine has beneficial effects for the treatment of PAH is still unknown. The purpose of this study was to identify whether tetrandrine exerts beneficial effects on PAH and how it works.

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