Schistosomiasis and the pulmonary vasculature (2013 Grover Conference series)

PVRI Member Authors: Brian Graham, Rahul Kumar


Inflammation is associated with multiple forms of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), including autoimmune (scleroderma) and infectious (HIV, schistosomiasis) etiologies. More than 200 million people worldwide are infected with Schistosoma, predominantly in Brazil, Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Schistosomiasis causes PAH in about 6.1% of those chronically infected and is particularly associated with the species Schistosoma mansoni. Treatment for schistosomiasis-associated PAH includes antihelminthic treatment, if active infection is present (although associated with little immediate benefit to the pulmonary hypertension), and then pharmacologic treatment with targeted pulmonary vascular therapies, including phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and endothelin receptor antagonists. The pathophysiological mechanism by which this parasitic infection causes pulmonary hypertension is unknown but is unlikely to be simple mechanical obstruction of the pulmonary vasculature by parasite eggs. Preexisting hepatosplenic disease due to Schistosoma infection is likely important because of portopulmonary hypertension and/or because it allows egg embolization to the lung by portocaval shunts. Potential immune signaling originating in the periegg granulomas causing the pulmonary vascular disease includes the cytokines interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-13, and transforming growth factor β. Modulating these pathways may be possible targets for future therapy of schistosomiasis-associated PAH specifically, and study of this disease may provide novel insights into other inflammatory causes of PAH.

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Growth Factors
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Pulmonary Hypertension


Brian B. Graham, Rahul Kumar

Published in:

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 4: No 3 cover image

August 2014

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 4: No 3

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