Member, Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI)
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Pericytes are mesenchymal-derived mural cells localized within the basement membrane of pulmonary and systemic capillaries. Besides structural support, pericytes control vascular tone, produce extracellular matrix components, and cytokines responsible for promoting vascular homeostasis and angiogenesis. However, pericytes can also contribute to vascular pathology through the production of pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic cytokines, differentiation into myofibroblast-like cells, destruction of the extracellular matrix, and dissociation from the vessel wall. In the lung, pericytes are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the alveolar-capillary membrane and coordinating vascular repair in response to injury. Loss of pericyte communication with alveolar capillaries and a switch to a pro-inflammatory/pro-fibrotic phenotype are common features of lung disorders associated with vascular remodeling, inflammation, and fibrosis. In this article, we will address how to differentiate pericytes from other cells, discuss the molecular mechanisms that regulate the interactions of pericytes and endothelial cells in the pulmonary circulation, and the experimental tools currently used to study pericyte biology both in vivo and in vitro. We will also discuss evidence that links pericytes to the pathogenesis of clinically relevant lung disorders such as pulmonary hypertension, idiopathic lung fibrosis, sepsis, and SARS-COVID. Future studies dissecting the complex interactions of pericytes with other pulmonary cell populations will likely reveal critical insights into the origin of pulmonary diseases and offer opportunities to develop novel therapeutics to treat patients afflicted with these devastating disorders. © 2021 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 11:2227-2247, 2021.
View details for DOI 10.1002/cphy.c200027
View details for PubMedID 34190345
Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease characterized by pulmonary vascular remodeling and right heart failure. Specific genetic variants increase the incidence of PAH in carriers with a family history of PAH, those who suffer from certain medical conditions, and even those with no apparent risk factors. Inflammation and immune dysregulation are related to vascular remodeling in PAH, but whether genetic susceptibility modifies the PAH immune response is unclear. TNIP2 and TRAF2 encode for immunomodulatory proteins that regulate NF-?B activation, a transcription factor complex associated with inflammation and vascular remodeling in PAH. Methods: Two unrelated families with PAH cases underwent whole-exome sequencing (WES). A custom pipeline for variant prioritization was carried out to obtain candidate variants. To determine the impact of TNIP2 and TRAF2 in cell proliferation, we performed an MTS [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium] assay on healthy lung pericytes transfected with siRNA specific for each gene. To measure the effect of loss of TNIP2 and TRAF2 on NF-kappa-beta (NF-?B) activity, we measured levels of Phospho-p65-NF-?B in siRNA-transfected pericytes using western immunoblotting. Results: We discovered a novel missense variant in the TNIP2 gene in two affected individuals from the same family. The two patients had a complex form of PAH with interatrial communication and scleroderma. In the second family, WES of the proband with PAH and primary biliary cirrhosis revealed a de novo protein-truncating variant in the TRAF2. The knockdown of TNIP2 and TRAF2 increased NF-?B activity in healthy lung pericytes, which correlated with a significant increase in proliferation over 24 h. Conclusions: We have identified two rare novel variants in TNIP2 and TRAF2 using WES. We speculate that loss of function in these genes promotes pulmonary vascular remodeling by allowing overactivation of the NF-?B signaling activity. Our findings support a role for WES in helping identify novel genetic variants associated with dysfunctional immune response in PAH.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fmed.2021.625763
View details for Web of Science ID 000649921700001
View details for PubMedID 33996849
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8119639
The delicate structure of murine lungs poses many challenges for acquiring high-quality images that truly represent the living lung. Here, we describe several optimized procedures for obtaining and imaging murine lung tissue. Compared to traditional paraffin cross-section and optimal cutting temperature (OCT), agarose-inflated vibratome sections (aka precision-cut lung slices), combines comparable structural preservation with experimental flexibility. In particular, we discuss an optimized procedure to precision-cut lung slices that can be used to visualize three-dimensional cell-cell interactions beyond the limitations of two-dimensional imaging. Super-resolution microscopy can then be used to reveal the fine structure of lung tissue's cellular bodies and processes that regular confocal cannot. Lastly, we evaluate the entire lung vasculature with clearing technology that allows imaging of the entire volume of the lung without sectioning. In this manuscript, we combine the above procedures to create a novel and evolutionary method to study cell behavior ex vivo, trace and reconstruct pulmonary vasculature, address fundamental questions relevant to a wide variety of vascular disorders, and perceive implications to better imaging clinical tissue.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fmed.2020.00343
View details for PubMedID 32766264
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7381109
Pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) and pericytes are NG2+ mural cells that provide structural support to pulmonary arteries and capillaries. In pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), both mural cell types contribute to PA muscularization but whether similar mechanisms are responsible for their behavior is unknown.RNA-Seq was used to compare the gene profile of pericytes and PASMCs from PAH and healthy lungs. NG2-Cre-ER mice were used to generate NG2-selective reporter mice (NG2tdT) for cell lineage identification and tamoxifen-inducible mice for NG2-selective SDF1 knockout (SDF1NG2-KO).Hierarchical clustering of RNA-seq data demonstrated that the genetic profile of PAH pericytes and PASMCs is highly similar. Cellular lineage staining studies on NG2tdT mice in chronic hypoxia showed that similar to PAH, tdT+ cells accumulate in muscularized microvessels and demonstrate significant upregulation of SDF1, a chemokine involved in chemotaxis and angiogenesis. Compared to controls, SDF1NG2-KO mice in chronic hypoxia had reduced muscularization and lower abundance of NG2+ cells around microvessels. SDF1 stimulation in healthy pericytes induced greater contractility and impaired their capacity to establish endothelial-pericyte communications. In contrast, SDF1 knockdown reduced PAH pericyte contractility and improved their capacity to associate with vascular tubes in co-culture.SDF1 is upregulated in NG2+ mural cells and is associated with PA muscularization. Targeting SDF1 could help prevent and/or reverse muscularization in PAH.
View details for DOI 10.1165/rcmb.2019-0401OC
View details for PubMedID 32084325
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a life-threatening progressive lung disorder with limited therapeutic options. While interleukin-10 (IL-10) is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic cytokine, its utility in treating lung fibrosis has been limited by its short half-life. We describe an innovative hydrogel-based approach to deliver recombinant IL-10 to the lung for the prevention and reversal of pulmonary fibrosis in a mouse model of bleomycin-induced lung injury. Our studies show that a hyaluronan and heparin-based hydrogel system locally delivers IL-10 by capitalizing on the ability of heparin to reversibly bind IL-10 without bleeding or other complications. This formulation is significantly more effective than soluble IL-10 for both preventing and reducing collagen deposition in the lung parenchyma after 7 days of intratracheal administration. The anti-fibrotic effect of IL-10 in this system is dependent on suppression of TGF-? driven collagen production by lung fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. We conclude that hydrogel-based delivery of IL-10 to the lung is a promising therapy for fibrotic lung disorders.
View details for PubMedID 30852423
Increasing evidence suggests that vascular dysfunction in the brain is associated with early stages of Alzheimer's disease. Amyloid-? deposition in the microvasculature of the brain, a process referred to as capillary cerebral amyloid angiopathy (capillary CAA), propagates vascular remodelling, which results in impaired function of the blood-brain barrier, reduced cerebral perfusion and increased hypoxia. While improving vascular function may be an attractive new way to fight capillary CAA, the underlying factors that mediate vascular alterations in Alzheimer's disease and capillary CAA pathogenesis remain largely unknown. Here we provide first evidence that angiopoietin like-4 (ANGPTL4), a hypoxia-induced factor, is highly expressed by reactive astrocytes in well characterized post-mortem tissues of patients with capillary CAA. Our in vitro studies reveal that ANGPTL4 is upregulated and secreted by human cortical astrocytes under hypoxic conditions and in turn stimulates endothelial cell migration and sprouting in a 3D spheroid model of human brain endothelial cells. Interestingly, plasma levels of ANGPTL4 are significantly increased in patients with vascular dementia compared to patients with subjective memory complaints. Overall, our data suggest that ANGPTL4 contributes to pathological vascular remodelling in capillary CAA and that detection of ANGPTL4 levels may improve current diagnostics. Ways of counteracting the detrimental effects of ANGPTL4 and thus promoting cerebral vascular function may provide novel treatment regimens to halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
View details for DOI 10.1093/brain/awy274
View details for Web of Science ID 000456597100014
View details for PubMedID 30462206
Increasing evidence suggests that cerebral vascular dysfunction is associated with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the key players involved in the development and maintenance of the vasculature. Here, we hypothesized that VEGF levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may be altered in AD patients with vascular involvement, characterized by the presence of microbleeds (MB), and in vascular dementia (VaD) patients compared to controls.VEGF levels were determined by electrochemilumiscence Meso Scale Discovery (MULTI-SPOT Assay System) in CSF from age-matched groups of controls with subjective cognitive decline (n?=?21), AD without MB (n?=?25), AD with MB (n?=?25), and VaD (n?=?21) patients.The average level of VEGF in the different groups was 2.8?±?1 pg/ml CSF. Adjusted for age and gender, no significant differences were detected between groups (p?>?0.5). However, we detected a significant correlation between the concentration of VEGF in the CSF and age (r?=?0.22, p?=?0.03). In addition, males (n?=?54) revealed higher VEGF levels in their CSF compared to females (n?=?38) (males?=?3.08?±?0.769 pg/ml (mean?±?SD), females?=?2.6?±?0.59; p?=?0.006), indicating a gender-related regulation.Our study suggests that VEGF levels in the CSF do not reflect the cerebral vascular alterations in either AD or VaD patients. The observed associations of VEGF with age and gender may indicate that VEGF reflects normal aging and that males and females may differ in their aging process.
View details for DOI 10.1186/s13195-018-0385-8
View details for Web of Science ID 000435911700001
View details for PubMedID 29933741
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6015445
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, affecting millions of people worldwide. One of the prominent causative factors of AD pathogenesis is cerebral vascular dysfunction, which results in diminished cerebral perfusion. Moreover, due to the loss of the protective function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), impaired clearance of excess neurotoxic amyloid beta (A?) occurs, causing vascular perturbation and diminished cognitive functioning. The relationship between the prevalence of AD and vascular risk factors is complex and not fully understood. In this review we illustrate the vascular risk factors, their effects on BBB function and their contributions to the onset of AD. Additionally, we discuss the underlying factors that may lead to altered neurovascular function and/or cerebral hypoperfusion in AD.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.vph.2016.11.008
View details for Web of Science ID 000394922100002
View details for PubMedID 27894893