Interdisciplinary networks for the treatment of childhood pulmonary vascular disease: what pulmonary hypertension doctors can learn from pediatric oncologists

Pulm Circ. 2013 Dec;3(4):792-801. doi: 10.1086/674766.


The pathobiology of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is complex and multifactorial. None of the current therapies has been shown to be universally effective or able to reverse advanced pulmonary vascular disease, characterized by plexiform vascular lesions, or to prevent right ventricular failure in advanced PAH. It is thus unlikely that only one factor, pathway, or gene mutation will explain all forms and cases. Pediatric oncologists recognized a need for intensified, collaborative research within their field more than 40 years ago and implemented major clinical and translational networks worldwide to achieve evidence-based "tailored therapies." The similarities in the pathobiology (e.g., increased proliferation and resistance to apoptosis in vascular cells and perivascular inflammation) and the uncertainties in the proper treatment of both cancer and pulmonary hypertension (PH) have led to the idea of building interdisciplinary networks among PH centers to achieve rapid translation of basic research findings, optimal diagnostic algorithms, and significant, sustained treatment results. Such networks leading to patient registries, clinical trials, drug development, and innovative, effective therapies are urgently needed for the care of children with PH. This article reviews the current status, limitations, and recent developments in the field of pediatric PH. It is suggested that the oncologists' exemplary networks, concepts, and results in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia are applicable to future networks and innovative therapies for pediatric pulmonary hypertensive vascular disease and right ventricular dysfunction.

Keywords: children; clinical trial; neonates; network; pulmonary hypertension; vascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review