Profiling the role of mammalian target of rapamycin in the vascular smooth muscle metabolome in pulmonary arterial hypertension

PVRI Member Authors: Steven Kawut, Elena Goncharova


Increased proliferation and resistance to apoptosis of pulmonary arterial vascular smooth muscle cells (PAVSMCs), coupled with metabolic reprogramming, are key components of pulmonary vascular remodeling, a major and currently irreversible pathophysiological feature of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). We recently reported that activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) plays a key role in increased energy generation and maintenance of the proliferative, apoptosis-resistant PAVSMC phenotype in human PAH, but the downstream effects of mTOR activation on PAH PAVSMC metabolism are not clear. Using liquid and gas chromatography–based mass spectrometry, we performed pilot metabolomic profiling of human microvascular PAVSMCs from idiopathic-PAH subjects before and after treatment with the selective adenosine triphosphate–competitive mTOR inhibitor PP242 and from nondiseased lungs. We have shown that PAH PAVSMCs have a distinct metabolomic signature of altered metabolites—components of fatty acid synthesis, deficiency of sugars, amino sugars, and nucleotide sugars—intermediates of protein and lipid glycosylation, and downregulation of key biochemicals involved in glutathione and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) metabolism. We also report that mTOR inhibition attenuated or reversed the majority of the PAH-specific abnormalities in lipogenesis, glycosylation, glutathione, and NAD metabolism without affecting altered polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism. Collectively, our data demonstrate a critical role of mTOR in major PAH PAVSMC metabolic abnormalities and suggest the existence of de novo lipid synthesis in PAVSMCs in human PAH that may represent a new, important component of disease pathogenesis worthy of future investigation.

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Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension


Tatiana V. Kudryashova, Dmitry A. Goncharov, Andressa Pena, Kaori Ihida-Stansbury, Horace DeLisser, Steven M. Kawut, Elena A. Goncharova

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 4 cover image

December 2015

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 4

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