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Nintedanib ameliorates experimental pulmonary arterial hypertension via inhibition of endothelial mesenchymal transition and smooth muscle cell proliferation

By Takeo Tsutsumi, Tetsutaro Nagaoka, Takashi Yoshida, Lei Wang, Sachiko Kuriyama, Yoshifumi Suzuki, Yuichi Nagata, Norihiro Harada, Yuzo Kodama, Fumiyuki Takahashi, Yoshiteru Morio, Kazuhisa Takahashi

Posted 20 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/584110 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214697)

Neointimal lesion and medial wall thickness of pulmonary arteries (PAs) are common pathological findings in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling contribute to intimal and medial vascular remodeling in PAH. Nintedanib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor whose targets include PDGF and FGF receptors. Although the beneficial effects of nintedanib were demonstrated for human idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, its efficacy for PAH is still unclear. Thus, we hypothesized that nintedanib is a novel treatment for PAH to inhibit the progression of vascular remodeling in PAs. The inhibitory effects of nintedanib were evaluated both in endothelial mesenchymal transition (EndMT)-induced human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (HPMVECs) and human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (HPASMCs) stimulated by growth factors. We also tested the effect of chronic nintedanib administration on a PAH rat model induced by Sugen5416 (a VEGF receptor inhibitor) combined with chronic hypoxia. Nintedanib was administered from weeks 3 to 5 after Sugen5416 injection, and pulmonary hemodynamics and PAs pathology were evaluated. Nintedanib attenuated the expression of mesenchymal markers in EndMT-induced HPMVECs and HPASMCs proliferation. Phosphorylation of PDGF and FGF receptors was augmented both in both intimal and medial lesions of PAs. Nintedanib blocked these phosphorylation, improved hemodynamics and reduced vascular remodeling involving neointimal lesions and medial wall thickening in PAs. Additionally, expressions Twist1, transcription factors associated with EndMT, in lung tissue was significantly reduced by nintedanib. These results suggest that nintedanib may be a novel treatment for PAH with anti-vascular remodeling effects.

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