Objectives: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by intimal lesions, right ventricular hypertrophy, and adventitial thickening of pulmonary arteries with progressive pulmonary hypertension. This investigation was aimed to examine the effects of transgenic expression of human matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in the pathogenesis of PAH.
Methods: PAH was induced using serial subcutaneous administration of monocrotaline (MCT). Right ventricular pressure was measured through the right jugular vein using a 1.4F Millar Mikro-tip catheter-transducer. Zymography, western blotting, and quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) were carried out for MMP-9. Immunohistochemistry was performed for α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and Mac-3 antigen.
Results: Measurement of right ventricular pressure demonstrated 2.5-fold and 3.7-fold elevation after the administration of MCT in wild-type and MMP-9 transgenic mice, respectively. Zymography, western blotting, and qRT-PCR depicted increased activity and expression of MMP-9 after treatment with MCT, which were augmented in transgenic mice. There was marked pulmonary inflammation with extensive infiltration of mononuclear cells, which was more intense in MMP-9 transgenic mice. SMA and Mac-3 staining demonstrated hypertrophy of pulmonary arteries with occlusion of precapillary vessels and extensive infiltration of macrophages, respectively. All these changes were aggravated in MCT-treated MMP-9 transgenic mice when compared to normal littermates.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrated that the MCT-induced PAH in mouse is a reproducible and potentially valuable animal model for the human disease. Our results further demonstrated that MMP-9 plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of PAH and effective blocking of MMP-9 could provide an option in the therapeutic intervention of human PAH.