Disrupted pulmonary vascular development and pulmonary hypertension in transgenic mice overexpressing transforming growth factor-alpha

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2003 Nov;285(5):L1046-54. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00045.2003. Epub 2003 Aug 1.


Pulmonary vascular disease plays a major role in morbidity and mortality in infant and adult lung diseases in which increased levels of transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha and its receptor EGFR have been associated. The aim of this study was to determine whether overexpression of TGF-alpha disrupts pulmonary vascular development and causes pulmonary hypertension. Lung-specific expression of TGF-alpha in transgenic mice was driven with the human surfactant protein (SP)-C promoter. Pulmonary arteriograms and arterial counts show that pulmonary vascular development was severely disrupted in TGF-alpha mice. TGF-alpha mice developed severe pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling characterized by abnormally extensive muscularization of small pulmonary arteries. Pulmonary vascular development was significantly improved and pulmonary hypertension and vascular remodeling were prevented in bi-transgenic mice expressing both TGF-alpha and a dominant-negative mutant EGF receptor under the control of the SP-C promoter. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A), an important angiogenic factor produced by the distal epithelium, was decreased in the lungs of TGF-alpha adults and in the lungs of infant TGF-alpha mice before detectable abnormalities in pulmonary vascular development. Hence, overexpression of TGF-alpha caused severe pulmonary vascular disease, which was mediated through EGFR signaling in distal epithelial cells. Reductions in VEGF may contribute to the pathogenesis of pulmonary vascular disease in TGF-alpha mice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / genetics*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Circulation / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein C / genetics*
  • Systole
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / genetics*
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / physiology
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Ventricular Function, Left


  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein C
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A