Role of Asymmetric Methylarginine and Connexin 43 in the Regulation of Pulmonary Endothelial Function

PVRI Member Authors: Luke Howard, Martin Wilkins, Beata Wojciak-Stothard


Circulating levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, are increased in patients with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension (IPAH). We hypothesized that ADMA abrogates gap junctional communication, required for the coordinated regulation of endothelial barrier function and angiogenesis, and so contributes to pulmonary endothelial dysfunction. The effects of ADMA on expression and function of gap junctional proteins were studied in human pulmonary artery endothelial cells; pulmonary endothelial microvascular cells from mice deficient in an enzyme metabolizing ADMA, dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase I (DDAHI); and blood-derived endothelial-like cells from patients with IPAH. Exogenous and endogenous ADMA inhibited protein expression and membrane localization of connexin 43 (Cx43) in a nitric oxide/soluble guanosine monophosphate/c-jun-dependent manner in pulmonary endothelial cells, resulting in the inhibition of gap junctional communication, increased permeability, and decreased angiogenesis. The effects of ADMA were prevented by overexpression of DDAHI or Cx43 and by treatment with rotigaptide. Blood-derived endothelial-like cells from IPAH patients displayed a distinct disease-related phenotype compared to cells from healthy controls, characterized by reduced DDAHI expression, increased ADMA production, and abnormal angiogenesis. In summary, we show that ADMA induces pulmonary endothelial dysfunction via changes in expression and activity of Cx43. Cells from IPAH patients exhibit abnormal DDAHI/Cx43 signaling as well as differences in gap junctional communication, barrier function, and angiogenesis. Strategies that promote DDAHI/Cx43 signaling may have an endothelium-protective effect and be beneficial in pulmonary vascular disease.

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Endothelin and Endothelium & Epithelium and Epithelial Transport
Nitric Oxide and Nitric Oxide Synthase


Hilda Tsang, James Leiper, Ka Hou Lao, Laura Dowsett, Matthew W. Delahaye, Gareth Barnes, John Wharton, Luke Howard, Lucio Iannone, Ninian N. Lang, Martin R. Wilkins, Beata Wojciak-Stothard

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 3: No 3 cover image

September 2013

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 3: No 3

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