Mechanical forces alter endothelin-1 signaling: comparative ovine models of congenital heart disease

Terry Zhu, Samuel Chiacchia, Rebecca J. Kameny, Antoni Garcia De Herreros, Wenhui Gong, Gary W. Raff, Jason B. Boehme, Emin Maltepe, Juan C. Lasheras, Stephen M. Black, Sanjeev A. Datar, Jeffrey R. Fineman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The risk and progression of pulmonary vascular disease in patients with congenital heart disease is dependent on the hemodynamics associated with different lesions. However, the underlying mechanisms are not understood. Endothelin-1 is a potent vasoconstrictor that plays a key role in the pathology of pulmonary vascular disease. We utilized two ovine models of congenital heart disease: (1) fetal aortopulmonary graft placement (shunt), resulting in increased flow and pressure; and (2) fetal ligation of the left pulmonary artery resulting in increased flow and normal pressure to the right lung, to investigate the hypothesis that high pressure and flow, but not flow alone, upregulates endothelin-1 signaling. Lung tissue and pulmonary arterial endothelial cells were harvested from control, shunt, and the right lung of left pulmonary artery lambs at 3–7 weeks of age. We found that lung preproendothelin-1 mRNA and protein expression were increased in shunt lambs compared to controls. Preproendothelin-1 mRNA expression was modestly increased, and protein was unchanged in left pulmonary artery lambs. These changes resulted in increased lung endothelin-1 levels in shunt lambs, while left pulmonary artery levels were similar to controls. Pulmonary arterial endothelial cells exposed to increased shear stress decreased endothelin-1 levels by five-fold, while cyclic stretch increased levels by 1.5-fold. These data suggest that pressure or an additive effect of pressure and flow, rather than increased flow alone, is the principal driver of increased endothelin signaling in congenital heart disease. Defining the molecular drivers of the pathobiology of pulmonary vascular disease due to differing mechanical forces will allow for a more targeted therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPulmonary Circulation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • angiogenesis
  • apoptosis
  • pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • pulmonary endothelium
  • pulmonary hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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