Hypoxia selectively induces proliferation in a specific subpopulation of smooth muscle cells in the bovine neonatal pulmonary arterial media

J Clin Invest. 1995 Jul;96(1):273-81. doi: 10.1172/JCI118031.


Medial thickening of the pulmonary arterial wall, secondary to smooth muscle cell (SMC) hyperplasia, is commonly observed in neonatal hypoxic pulmonary hypertension. Because recent studies have demonstrated the existence of multiple phenotypically distinct SMC populations within the arterial media, we hypothesized that these SMC subpopulations would differ in their proliferative responses to hypoxic pulmonary hypertension and thus contribute in selective ways to the vascular remodeling process. Expression of meta-vinculin, a muscle-specific cytoskeletal protein, has been shown to reliably distinguish two unique SMC subpopulations within the bovine pulmonary arterial media. Therefore, to assess the proliferative responses of phenotypically distinct SMC subpopulations in the setting of neonatal pulmonary hypertension, we performed double immunofluorescence staining on pulmonary artery cryosections from control and hypertensive calves with antibodies against meta-vinculin and the proliferation-associated nuclear antigen, Ki-67. We found that, although neonatal pulmonary hypertension caused significant increases in overall cell replication, proliferation occurred almost exclusively in one, the meta-vinculin-negative SMC population, but not the other SMC population expressing meta-vinculin. We also examined fetal pulmonary arteries, where proliferative rates were high and meta-vinculin expression again reliably distinguished two SMC subpopulations. In contrast to the hypertensive neonate, we found in the fetus that the relative proliferative rates of both SMC subpopulations were equal, thus suggesting the existence of different mechanisms controlling proliferation and expression of cytoskeletal proteins in the fetus and neonate. We conclude that phenotypically distinct SMC populations in the bovine arterial media exhibit specific and selective proliferative responses to neonatal pulmonary hypertension. Distinct SMC subpopulations may, thus, contribute in unique ways to vascular homeostasis under both normal and pathologic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cattle
  • Cell Division
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Hypoxia / pathology*
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Male
  • Muscle Proteins / analysis
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis
  • Pulmonary Artery / pathology*
  • Vinculin*


  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Vinculin