Delayed Microvascular Shear Adaptation in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. Role of Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Cleavage

Robert Szulcek, Chris M. Happe, Nina Rol, Ruud D. Fontijn, Chris Dickhoff, Koen J. Hartemink, Katrien Grunberg, Ly Tu, Wim Timens, George D. Nossent, Marinus A. Paul, Thomas A. Leyen, Anton J. Horrevoets, Frances S. de Man, Christophe Guignabert, Paul B. Yu, Anton Vonk-Noordegraaf, Geerten P. van Nieuw Amerongen, Harm J. Bogaard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: Altered pulmonary hemodynamics and fluid flow-induced high shear stress (HSS) are characteristic hallmarks in the pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). However, the contribution of HSS to cellular and vascular alterations in PAH is unclear.

Objectives: We hypothesize that failing shear adaptation is an essential part of the endothelial dysfunction in all forms of PAH and tested whether microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs) or pulmonary arterial endothelial cells (PAECs) from lungs of patients with PAH adapt to HSS and if the shear defect partakes in vascular remodeling in vivo.

Methods: PAH MVEC (n = 7) and PAH PAEC (n = 3) morphology, function, protein, and gene expressions were compared with control MVEC (n = 8) under static culture conditions and after 24, 72, and 120 hours of HSS.

Measurements and Main Results: PAH MVEC showed a significantly delayed morphological shear adaptation (P = 0.03) and evidence of cell injury at sites of nonuniform shear profiles that are critical loci for vascular remodeling in PAH. In clear contrast, PAEC isolated from the same PAH lungs showed no impairments. PAH MVEC gene expression and transcriptional shear activation were not altered but showed significant decreased protein levels (P = 0.02) and disturbed interendothelial localization of the shear sensor platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1). The decreased PECAM-1 levels were caused by caspase-mediated cytoplasmic cleavage but not increased cell apoptosis. Caspase blockade stabilized PECAM-1 levels, restored endothelial shear responsiveness in vitro, and attenuated occlusive vascular remodeling in chronically hypoxic Sugen5416-treated rats modeling severe PAH.

Conclusions: Delayed shear adaptation, which promotes shear-induced endothelial injury, is a newly identified dysfunction specific to the microvascular endothelium in PAH. The shear response is normalized on stabilization of PECAM-1, which reverses intimal remodeling in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1410-1420
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15-Jun-2016


  • pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • endothelial cell
  • shear stress
  • microcirculation
  • molecular biology
  • PECAM-1

Cite this