High-Altitude Pulmonary Hypertension in Cattle (Brisket Disease): Candidate Genes and Gene Expression Profiling of Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells

PVRI Member Authors: John H. Newman, Rizwan Hamid


High-altitude pulmonary hypertension (HAPH) is a consequence of chronic alveolar hypoxia, leading to hypoxic vasoconstriction and remodeling of the pulmonary circulation. Brisket disease in cattle is a naturally occurring animal model of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension. Genetically susceptible cattle develop severe pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure at altitudes >7,000 ft. No information currently exists regarding the identity of the pathways and gene(s) responsible for HAPH or influencing severity. We hypothesized that initial insights into the pathogenesis of the disease could be discovered by a strategy of (1) sequencing of functional candidates revealed by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis and (2) gene expression profiling of affected cattle compared with altitude-matched normal controls, with gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) and Ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA). We isolated blood from a single herd of Black Angus cattle of both genders, aged 12–18 months, by jugular vein puncture. Mean pulmonary arterial pressures were 85.6±13 mmHg STD in the 10 affected and 35.3±1.2 mmHg STD in the 10 resistant cattle, P<0.001. From peripheral blood mononuclear cells, DNA was hybridized to an Affymetrix 10K Gene Chip SNP, and RNA was used to probe an Affymetrix Bovine genome array. SNP loci were remapped using the Btau 4.0 bovine genome assembly. mRNA data was analyzed by the Partek software package to identify sets of genes with an expression that was statistically different between the two groups. GSEA and IPA were conducted on the refined expression data to identify key cellular pathways and to generate networks and conduct functional analyses of the pathways and networks. Ten SNPs were identified by allelelic association and four candidate genes were sequenced in the cohort. Neither endothelial nitric oxide synthetase, NADH dehydrogenase, TG-interacting factor-2 nor BMPR2 were different among affected and resistant cattle. A 60-gene mRNA signature was identified that differentiated affected from unaffected cattle. Forty-six genes were overexpressed in the affected and 14 genes were downregulated in the affected cattle by at least 20%. GSEA and Ingenuity analysis identified respiratory diseases, inflammatory diseases and pathways as the top diseases and disorders (P<5.14×10−14), cell development and cell signaling as the top cellular functions (P<1.20×10−08), and IL6, TREM, PPAR, NFkB cell signaling (P<8.69×10−09) as the top canonical pathways associated with this gene signature. This study provides insights into differences in RNA expression in HAPH at a molecular level, and eliminates four functional gene candidates. Further studies are needed to validate and refine these preliminary findings and to determine the role of transcribed genes in the development of HAPH.

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Animal Models
High Altitude and Hypoxia


John H. Newman, Timothy N. Holt, Lora K. Hedges, Bethany Womack, Shafia S. Memon, Elisabeth D. Willers, Lisa Wheeler, John A. Phillips, III, Rizwan Hamid

Published in:

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 1: No 4 cover image

December 2011

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 1: No 4

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