mTORC1 is involved in hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension through the activation of Notch3

J Cell Physiol. 2014 Dec;229(12):2117-25. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24670.


Hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension (HPH) is a clinical syndrome associated with high morbidity and mortality. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Both the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and the Notch3 signaling pathways have been reported to be involved in HPH; however, it is unknown whether there is a connection between these two signaling pathways in HPH. This study was designed to investigate the relationship between mTOR and Notch3 in HPH. After treatment with 10% O2 for 4 weeks, male C57BL/6 mice developed HPH with gradually increased right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), right ventricular hypertrophy index (RVHI), and pulmonary arteriolar remodeling accompanied by the activation of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and Notch3 in the lung tissue and pulmonary arterioles. Pretreatment with the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin not only alleviated pulmonary arterial pressure and pulmonary arteriolar remodeling but also suppressed hypoxia-induced mTORC1 and Notch3 activation. Prophylactic N-[N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester (DAPT) administration, a Notch signaling inhibitor, protected against the effects of hypoxia. These in vivo data were confirmed by in vitro experiments on human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell (PASMC) exposed to 3% O2 . Furthermore, overexpression of Notch3 intracellular domain partially abrogated the inhibitory effects of rapamycin on human PASMC proliferation. These data indicate that both mTORC1 and Notch3 signaling are involved in HPH and the downstream effects of mTORC1 activation in HPH are partially dependent on the activation of Notch3 signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dipeptides / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / genetics*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology
  • Hypertrophy, Right Ventricular / metabolism
  • Hypertrophy, Right Ventricular / pathology
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mice
  • Multiprotein Complexes / genetics
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / pathology
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Receptor, Notch3
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*


  • Dipeptides
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • N-(N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)alanyl)phenylglycine tert-butyl ester
  • Notch3 protein, mouse
  • Receptor, Notch3
  • Receptors, Notch
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Oxygen