Monocrotaline-Induced Pulmonary Hypertension Involves Downregulation of Antiaging Protein Klotho and eNOS Activity

Hypertension. 2016 Nov;68(5):1255-1263. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.08184. Epub 2016 Sep 26.


The objective of this study is to investigate whether stem cell delivery of secreted Klotho (SKL), an aging-suppressor protein, attenuates monocrotaline-induced pulmonary vascular dysfunction and remodeling. Overexpression of SKL in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) was achieved by transfecting MSCs with lentiviral vectors expressing SKL-green fluorescent protein (GFP). Four groups of rats were treated with monocrotaline, whereas an additional group was given saline (control). Three days later, 4 monocrotaline-treated groups received intravenous delivery of nontransfected MSCs, MSC-GFP, MSC-SKL-GFP, and PBS, respectively. Ex vivo vascular relaxing responses to acetylcholine were diminished in small pulmonary arteries (PAs) in monocrotaline-treated rats, indicating pulmonary vascular endothelial dysfunction. Interestingly, delivery of MSCs overexpressing SKL (MSC-SKL-GFP) abolished monocrotaline-induced pulmonary vascular endothelial dysfunction and PA remodeling. Monocrotaline significantly increased right ventricular systolic blood pressure, which was attenuated significantly by MSC-SKL-GFP, indicating improved PA hypertension. MSC-SKL-GFP also attenuated right ventricular hypertrophy. Nontransfected MSCs slightly, but not significantly, improved PA hypertension and pulmonary vascular endothelial dysfunction. MSC-SKL-GFP attenuated monocrotaline-induced inflammation, as evidenced by decreased macrophage infiltration around PAs. MSC-SKL-GFP increased SKL levels, which rescued the downregulation of SIRT1 (Sirtuin 1) expression and endothelial NO synthase (eNOS) phosphorylation in the lungs of monocrotaline-treated rats. In cultured endothelial cells, SKL abolished monocrotaline-induced downregulation of eNOS activity and NO levels and enhanced cell viability. Therefore, stem cell delivery of SKL is an effective therapeutic strategy for pulmonary vascular endothelial dysfunction and PA remodeling. SKL attenuates monocrotaline-induced PA remodeling and PA smooth muscle cell proliferation, likely by reducing inflammation and restoring SIRT1 levels and eNOS activity.

Keywords: Klotho protein; SIRT1 protein, human; familial primary pulmonary hypertension; genetic therapy; mesenchymal stromal cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Glucuronidase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / chemically induced
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / genetics
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / physiopathology*
  • Hypertrophy, Right Ventricular / genetics*
  • Hypertrophy, Right Ventricular / physiopathology
  • Klotho Proteins
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Monocrotaline / pharmacology
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III / metabolism*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sirtuin 1 / genetics
  • Transfection


  • Monocrotaline
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Glucuronidase
  • Klotho Proteins
  • Sirt1 protein, rat
  • Sirtuin 1