Stable isotope metabolomics of pulmonary artery smooth muscle and endothelial cells in pulmonary hypertension and with TGF-beta treatment

Sci Rep. 2020 Jan 15;10(1):413. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-57200-5.


Altered metabolism in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) and endothelial cells (PAECs) contributes to the pathology of pulmonary hypertension (PH), but changes in substrate uptake and how substrates are utilized have not been fully characterized. We hypothesized stable isotope metabolomics would identify increased glucose, glutamine and fatty acid uptake and utilization in human PASMCs and PAECs from PH versus control specimens, and that TGF-β treatment would phenocopy these metabolic changes. We used 13C-labeled glucose, glutamine or a long-chain fatty acid mixture added to cell culture media, and mass spectrometry-based metabolomics to detect and quantify 13C-labeled metabolites. We found PH PASMCs had increased glucose uptake and utilization by glycolysis and the pentose shunt, but no changes in glutamine or fatty acid uptake or utilization. Diseased PAECs had increased proximate glycolysis pathway intermediates, less pentose shunt flux, increased anaplerosis from glutamine, and decreased fatty acid β-oxidation. TGF-β treatment increased glycolysis in PASMCs, but did not recapitulate the PAEC disease phenotype. In TGF-β-treated PASMCs, glucose, glutamine and fatty acids all contributed carbons to the TCA cycle. In conclusion, PASMCs and PAECs collected from PH subjects have significant changes in metabolite uptake and utilization, partially recapitulated by TGF-β treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Citric Acid Cycle
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Female
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / metabolism*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Male
  • Metabolome / drug effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology
  • Pentose Phosphate Pathway
  • Pulmonary Artery / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Artery / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology*


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta