Cell-type-specific crosstalk between p38 MAPK and Rho signaling in lung micro- and macrovascular barrier dysfunction induced byStaphylococcus aureus-derived pathogens

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Lung inflammation and alterations in endothelial cell (EC) micro- and macrovascular permeability are key events to development of acute lung injury. Using ECs derived from human pulmonary artery and lung microvasculature, we investigated the interplay between p38 stress mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Rho guanosine triphosphatase signaling in inflammatory and hyperpermeability responses. Both cell types were treated withStaphylococcus aureus-derived peptidoglycan (PepG) and lipoteichoic acid (LTA) with or without pretreatment with p38 MAPK or Rho kinase inhibitors. LTA and PepG increased permeability markedly in both pulmonary macrovascular and microvascular ECs. Agonist-induced hyperpermeability was accompanied by cytoskeletal remodeling, disruption of cell-cell contacts, formation of paracellular gaps, and activation of p38 MAPK, nuclear factor kappa-B (NFκB), and Rho/Rho kinase signaling. In macrovascular ECs, pharmacologic inhibition of Rho kinase with Y27632 suppressed p38 MAP kinase cascade activation significantly, whereas inhibition of p38 MAPK with SB203580 had no effect on Rho activation. In contrast, inhibition of p38 MAPK in microvascular ECs suppressed LTA/PepG-induced activation of Rho, whereas the Rho inhibitor suppressed activation of p38 MAPK. Inhibition of either p38 MAPK or Rho kinase attenuated activation of NFκB signaling substantially. These results demonstrate cell-type-specific differences in signaling induced byStaphylococcus aureus-derived pathogens in pulmonary endothelium. Thus, although Gram-positive bacterial compounds caused barrier dysfunction in both EC types, it was induced by a different pattern of crosstalk between Rho, p38 MAPK, and NFκB signaling. These observations may have important implications in defining microvasculature-specific therapeutic strategies aimed at the treatment of sepsis and acute lung injury induced by Gram-positive bacterial pathogens.

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