Versican accumulates in vascular lesions in pulmonary arterial hypertension


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a lethal condition for which there is no effective curative pharmacotherapy. PAH is characterized by vasoconstriction, wall thickening of pulmonary arteries, and increased vascular resistance. Versican is a chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan in the vascular extracellular matrix that accumulates following vascular injury and promotes smooth-muscle cell proliferation in systemic arteries. Here, we investigated whether versican may play a similar role in PAH. Paraffin-embedded lung sections from patients who underwent lung transplantation to treat PAH were used for immunohistochemistry. The etiologies of PAH in the subjects involved in this study were idiopathic PAH, scleroderma, and congenital heart disease (atrial septal defect) with left-to-right shunt. Independent of the underlying etiology, increased versican immunostaining was observed in areas of medial thickening, in neointima, and in plexiform lesions. Western blot of lung tissue lysates confirmed accumulation of versican in patients with PAH. Double staining for versican and CD45 showed only occasional colocalization in neointima of high-grade lesions and plexiform lesions. In vitro, metabolic labeling with [35S]sulfate showed that human pulmonary artery smooth-muscle cells (hPASMCs) produce mainly chondroitin sulfate glycosaminoglycans. In addition, hypoxia, but not cyclic stretch, was demonstrated to increase both versican messenger RNA expression and protein synthesis by hPASMCs. Versican accumulates in vascular lesions of PAH, and the amount of versican correlates more with lesion severity than with underlying etiology or inflammation. Hypoxia is a possible regulator of versican accumulation, which may promote proliferation of pulmonary smooth-muscle cells and vascular remodeling in PAH.

Read the full article online


Hypoxia/ Intermittent Hypoxia/ Hypoxia-Ischemia and Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension


Ya-Ting Chang, Christina K. Chan, Inger Eriksson, Pamela Y. Johnson, Xiaofang Cao, Christian Westöö, Christian Norvik, Annika Andersson-Sjöland, Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson, Staffan Johansson, Ulf Hedin, Lena Kjellén, Thomas N. Wight, Karin Tran-Lundmark

Published in:

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 6: No 3 cover image

September 2016

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 6: No 3

View this journal

Our research platform is the world.

Through worldwide collaboration, we can begin to answer the question of a global disease.

Join the PVRI