Rationale: Circulating microparticles (MPs) are submicron membrane fragments shed from damaged or activated vascular cells. Endothelial MPs are a biological marker of dysfunctional endothelium. Vascular remodeling and endothelial dysfunction are involved in pulmonary hypertension (PH).
Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that circulating MPs are increased in patients with PH and that identifiable subgroups of MPs predict the hemodynamic severity of this condition progression.
Methods: Patients (n = 24; age, 54 +/- 4 yr) undergoing right heart catheterization for precapillary PH without any endothelium-active vasodilator therapy participated in the study. Age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects (n = 20) were included. Endothelial (PECAM(+) [CD31(+)]/ CD41(-), VE-cadherin(+) [CD144(+)], and E-selectin(+) [CD62e(+)]), platelet (CD41(+)), leukocyte-derived (CD45(+)), and annexin V(+) MPs were measured by flow cytometry in platelet-free plasma from venous blood.
Measurements and main results: Levels of circulating endothelial PECAM(+), VE-cadherin(+), E-selectin(+), and leukocyte-derived MPs, but not platelet and annexin V(+) MPs, were increased in subjects with PH compared with control subjects (P < 0.01 each). PECAM(+) and VE-cadherin(+) MP levels significantly correlated with mean pulmonary artery pressure (r = 0.92 and r = 0.87, respectively), pulmonary vascular resistance (r = 0.78 and r = 0.73), and mean right atrial pressure (r = 0.43, and r = 0.46) and correlated inversely with cardiac index (r = -0.59 and r = -0.52). These relationships were not observed for other MP subgroups, and persisted in multivariate analysis after adjustment for confounding factors.
Conclusions: In subjects with precapillary PH, levels of circulating endothelial and leukocyte MPs were increased compared with control subjects. In addition, levels of PECAM(+) and VE-cadherin(+), but not E-selectin(+), endothelial MPs predicted hemodynamic severity of the disease.