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Role of tetrahydrobiopterin in pulmonary vascular remodelling associated with pulmonary fibrosis

AuthorsMilara, Javier; Serrano-Mollar, Anna ; Xaubet, Antoni
Issue Date2013
PublisherBMJ Publishing Group
CitationThorax 68(10): 938-948 (2013)
Abstract[Background]: Pulmonary hypertension in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is indicative of a poor prognosis. Recent evidence suggests that tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), the cofactor of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), is involved in pulmonary hypertension and that pulmonary artery endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EnMT) may contribute to pulmonary fibrosis. However, the role of BH4 in pulmonary remodelling secondary to pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. This study examined the BH4 system in plasma and pulmonary arteries from patients with IPF as well as the antiremodelling and antifibrotic effects of the BH4 precursor sepiapterin in rat bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis and in vitro EnMT models. [Methods]: BH4 and nitrotyrosine were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography and ELISA, respectively. Expression of sepiapterin reductase (SPR), GTP cyclohydrolase 1 (GCH-1), endothelial NOS (eNOS) and inducible NOS (iNOS) were measured by quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry. [Results]: BH4 plasma levels were downregulated in patients with IPF compared with controls while nitrites, nitrates and nitrotyrosine were upregulated. GCH-1 and eNOS were absent in pulmonary arteries of patients with IPF; however, iNOS expression increased while SPR expression was unchanged. In rats, oral sepiapterin (10 mg/kg twice daily) attenuated bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, mortality, vascular remodelling and pulmonary hypertension by increasing rat plasma BH4, decreasing plasma nitrotyrosine and increasing vascular eNOS and GCH-1 expression. Both transforming growth factor β1 and endothelin-1 induced EnMT by decreasing BH4 and eNOS expression. In vitro administration of sepiapterin increased endothelial BH4 and inhibited EnMT in human pulmonary artery endothelial cells. [Conclusions]: Targeting the BH4 synthesis 'salvage pathway' with sepiapterin may be a new therapeutic strategy to attenuate pulmonary hypertension in IPF.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-203408
issn: 0040-6376
e-issn: 1468-3296
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