1. State Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, Fuwai Hospital, National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, 100037, People's Republic of China.
2. Medical Research Center, Beijing Chao-Yang Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100020, People's Republic of China.
A key feature of pulmonary hypertension (PH) is the remodeling of small pulmonary arteries due to abnormal pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell (PASMC) proliferation and resistance to apoptosis. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying how PASMCs in the pathological condition of pulmonary hypertension become resistant to apoptosis remain unknown. It was recently reported that lipocalin 2 (Lcn2) is up-regulated in a wide array of malignant conditions, which facilitates tumorigenesis partly by inhibiting cell apoptosis. In this study, we observed that the expression levels of Lcn2 were significantly elevated in a rat PH model induced with monocrotaline and in patients with congenital heart disease-associated PH (CHD-PH) when compared with respective control. Therefore, we hypothesize that Lcn2 could regulate human PASMC (HPASMC) apoptosis through a mechanism. By the detection of DNA fragmentation using the TUNEL assay, the detection of Annexin V/PI-positive cells using flow cytometry, and the detection of cleaved caspase-3 and caspase-3 activity, we observed that Lcn2 significantly inhibited HPASMC apoptosis induced by serum withdrawal and H2O2 treatment. We also observed that Lcn2 down-regulated the proapoptotic protein Bax, decreased the levels of cellular ROS, and up-regulated the expression of superoxide dismutases (SOD1 and SOD2). In conclusion, Lcn2 significantly inhibits HPASMC apoptosis induced by oxidative stress via decreased intracellular ROS and elevated SODs. Up-regulation of Lcn2 in a rat PH model and CHD-PH patients may be involved in the pathological process of PH.
Keywords: apoptosis, oxidative stress, Lipocalin-2 (Lcn2), SOD, ROS, pulmonary hypertension (PH)