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Immunology - Respiratory Medicine


Complement C3 Deficiency Attenuates Chronic Hypoxia-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension in Mice
Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Author: Eileen M. Bauer et al.

by Eileen M. Bauer, Han Zheng, Suzy Comhair, Serpil Erzurum, Timothy R. Billiar, Philip M. Bauer

Background

Evidence suggests a role of both innate and adaptive immunity in the development of pulmonary arterial hypertension. The complement system is a key sentry of the innate immune system and bridges innate and adaptive immunity. To date there are no studies addressing a role for the complement system in pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Immunofluorescent staining revealed significant C3d deposition in lung sections from IPAH patients and C57Bl6/J wild-type mice exposed to three weeks of chronic hypoxia to induce pulmonary hypertension. Right ventricular systolic pressure and right ventricular hypertrophy were increased in hypoxic vs. normoxic wild-type mice, which were attenuated in C3-/- hypoxic mice. Likewise, pulmonary vascular remodeling was attenuated in the C3-/- mice compared to wild-type mice as determined by the number of muscularized peripheral arterioles and morphometric analysis of vessel wall thickness. The loss of C3 attenuated the increase in interleukin-6 and intracellular adhesion molecule-1 expression in response to chronic hypoxia, but not endothelin-1 levels. In wild-type mice, but not C3-/- mice, chronic hypoxia led to platelet activation as assessed by bleeding time, and flow cytometry of platelets to determine cell surface P-selectin expression. In addition, tissue factor expression and fibrin deposition were increased in the lungs of WT mice in response to chronic hypoxia. These pro-thrombotic effects of hypoxia were abrogated in C3-/- mice.

Conclusions

Herein, we provide compelling genetic evidence that the complement system plays a pathophysiologic role in the development of PAH in mice, promoting pulmonary vascular remodeling and a pro-thrombotic phenotype. In addition we demonstrate C3d deposition in IPAH patients suggesting that complement activation plays a role in the development of PAH in humans.

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