Rationale: Inflammatory cytokines may affect pulmonary vascular remodeling in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) is synthesized by vascular cells and can stimulate monocyte/macrophage migration and smooth muscle cell (SMC) proliferation.
Objectives: To investigate the role of CCL2 in IPAH.
Methods: CCL2 levels in plasma, monocytes, lungs, and medium from pulmonary endothelial cell (P-EC) or pulmonary artery SMC (PA-SMC) cultures were measured by ELISA and Western blot analysis. CCL2 receptor CCR2 mRNA levels in monocytes, P-ECs, and PA-SMCs were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Effect of CCL2 on PA-SMC proliferation and migration was assessed using [3H]thymidine incorporation and a modified Boyden's chamber. The effect of endothelial cell-derived CCL2 on monocyte migration was measured using a modified Boyden's chamber.
Measurements and main results: Compared with control subjects, we found the following in patients with IPAH: elevated CCL2 protein levels in plasma and lung tissue, whereas monocyte CCL2 levels were similar between patients and control subjects, and elevated CCL2 release by P-ECs or PA-SMCs. P-ECs released twice as much CCL2 than did PA-SMCs. Monocyte migration was markedly increased in the presence of P-ECs, and the increase was larger with P-ECs from patients with IPAH. CCL2-blocking antibodies reduced P-ECs' chemotactic activity by 60%. Compared with controls, PA-SMCs from patients exhibited stronger migratory and proliferative responses to CCL2, in keeping with the finding that CCR2 was markedly increased in PA-SMCs from patients.
Conclusions: These results suggest that CCL2 overproduction may be a feature of the abnormal P-EC phenotype in IPAH, contributing to the inflammatory process and to pulmonary vascular remodeling.