Sildenafil in hypoxic pulmonary hypertension potentiates a compensatory up-regulation of NO-cGMP signaling

Mark Kirsch, Barbara Kathryn Kemp-Harper, Norbert Weissmann, Friedrich Grimminger, Harald Schmidt

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The availability of inhibitors of cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE 5), such as sildenafil, has revolutionized the treatment of pulmonary hypertension (PH). Sildenafil may exert its protective effects in a mechanism-based fashion by targeting a pathophysiologically attenuated NO-cGMP signaling pathway. To elucidate this, we analyzed changes in the pulmonary expression and activity of key enzymes of NO-cGMP signaling as well as the functional pulmonary responses to sildenafil in the 5 or 21 day hypoxia mouse model of PH. Surprisingly, we found doubled NO synthase (NOS) II and III levels, no evidence for attenuated NO bioaviability as evidenced by the nitrosative/oxidative stress marker protein nitro tyrosine, and no changes in the expression and activity of the NO receptor, soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC). PDE 5 was either unchanged at day 5 or, after 21 days of hypoxia, even significantly decreased along with unchanged activity. Biochemically, these changes were mirrored by increased cGMP spillover into the lung perfusate and cGMP-dependent phosphorylation of the vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein, VASP. Sildenafil further augmented cGMP and phospho-VASP levels in lungs of mice exposed for 5 or 21 days and decreased pulmonary arterial pressure in mice after 5 days but not 21 days of hypoxia. In conclusion, NO-cGMP signaling is compensatorily up-regulated in the hypoxic mouse model of PH, and sildenafil further augments this pathway to functionally alleviate pulmonary vasoconstriction.-Kirsch, M., Kemp-Harper, B., Weissmann, N., Grimminger, F., Schmidt, H. H. H. W. Sildenafil in hypoxic pulmonary hypertension potentiates a compensatory up-regulation of NO-cGMP signaling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30 - 40
Number of pages10
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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