Protective effect of Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone agonist in bacterial toxin-induced pulmonary barrier dysfunction

Front Physiol. 2014 Jul 15;5:259. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00259. eCollection 2014.


Rationale: Antibiotic treatment of patients infected with G(-) or G(+) bacteria promotes release of the toxins lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and pneumolysin (PLY) in their lungs. Growth Hormone-releasing Hormone (GHRH) agonist JI-34 protects human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HL-MVEC), expressing splice variant 1 (SV-1) of the receptor, from PLY-induced barrier dysfunction. We investigated whether JI-34 also blunts LPS-induced hyperpermeability. Since GHRH receptor (GHRH-R) signaling can potentially stimulate both cAMP-dependent barrier-protective pathways as well as barrier-disruptive protein kinase C pathways, we studied their interaction in GHRH agonist-treated HL-MVEC, in the presence of PLY, by means of siRNA-mediated protein kinase A (PKA) depletion.

Methods: Barrier function measurements were done in HL-MVEC monolayers using Electrical Cell substrate Impedance Sensing (ECIS) and VE-cadherin expression by Western blotting. Capillary leak was assessed by Evans Blue dye (EBD) incorporation. Cytokine generation in broncho-alveolar lavage fluid (BALF) was measured by multiplex analysis. PKA and PKC-α activity were assessed by Western blotting.

Results: GHRH agonist JI-34 significantly blunts LPS-induced barrier dysfunction, at least in part by preserving VE-cadherin expression, while not affecting inflammation. In addition to activating PKA, GHRH agonist also increases PKC-α activity in PLY-treated HL-MVEC. Treatment with PLY significantly decreases resistance in control siRNA-treated HL-MVEC, but does so even more in PKA-depleted monolayers. Pretreatment with GHRH agonist blunts PLY-induced permeability in control siRNA-treated HL-MVEC, but fails to improve barrier function in PKA-depleted PLY-treated monolayers.

Conclusions: GHRH signaling in HL-MVEC protects from both LPS and PLY-mediated endothelial barrier dysfunction and concurrently induces a barrier-protective PKA-mediated and a barrier-disruptive PKC-α-induced pathway in the presence of PLY, the former of which dominates the latter.

Keywords: capillary leak; growth hormone-releasing hormone; lipopolysaccharide; pneumolysin; protein kinase A; protein kinase C.