p21-Dependent Protective Effects of a Carbon Monoxide–Releasing Molecule-3 in Pulmonary Hypertension
Objective—Carbon monoxide–releasing molecules (CORMs) represent a pharmacological alternative to CO gas inhalation. Here, we questioned whether CORM-3, a well-characterized water-soluble CORM, could prevent and reverse pulmonary hypertension (PH) in chronically hypoxic mice and in smooth muscle promoter 22 serotonin transporter mice overexpressing the serotonin transporter in smooth muscle cells (SMCs).
Approach and Results—Treatment with CORM-3 (50 mg/kg per day once daily) for 3 weeks prevented PH, right ventricular hypertrophy, and distal pulmonary artery muscularization in mice exposed to chronic hypoxia and partially reversed PH in smooth muscle promoter 22 serotonin transporter mice by reducing Ki67 dividing pulmonary artery SMCs (PA-SMCs). In these models, CORM-3 markedly increased lung p21 mRNA and protein levels and p21-stained PA-SMCs. These effects contrasted with the transient pulmonary vasodilatation and rise in lung cGMP levels induced by a single injection of CORM-3 in mice exposed to acute hypoxia. Studies in cultured rat PA-SMCs revealed that the inhibitory effects of CORM-3 on cell growth were independent of cGMP formation but associated with increased p21 mRNA and protein levels. Protection against PH by CORM-3 required increased lung expression of p21, as indicated by the inability of CORM-3 to prevent chronic hypoxia-induced PH in p21-deficient mice and to alter the growth of PA-SMCs derived from p21-deficient mice. CORM-3–induced p21 overexpression was linked to p53 activation as assessed by the inability of CORM-3 to prevent PH and induce p21 expression in p53-deficient mice and in PA-SMCs derived from p53-deficient mice.
Conclusions—CORM-3 inhibits pulmonary vascular remodeling via p21, which may represent a useful approach for treating PH.
- Received July 30, 2013.
- Accepted December 4, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.