Background - Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is associated with structural changes in the pulmonary vasculature characterized by the proliferation of cellular components of the vessels. ACE inhibitor (ACEI) may have beneficial effects in treating PAH, but its precise mechanism of action in the remodeling process is unclear. p21 is a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor that may have a protective role in this process by inhibiting cellular proliferation. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) has also been shown to be protective by its vasodilatory effect. Therefore, we investigated whether expression of p21 and eNOS was modulated by ACEI treatment in a rat model. Methods and Results - Monocrotaline (MCT) was administered to 2 groups of Sprague-Dawley rats fed a high-cholesterol diet, ie, one group received MCT concomitantly with enalapril treatment (MCT+/ACEI+ rats), and the other group did not receive enalapril (MCT+/ACEI- rats). After 5 weeks, MRI showed right ventricular hypertrophy in MCT+/ACEI- rats. MCT+/ACEI+ rats showed a preserved right ventricular morphology. Isolated pulmonary perfusion studies showed that ACEI significantly upregulated NO production, as measured by nitrite levels. Addition of N-methyl-D-glucamine dithiocarbamate-Fe solution, an NO-trapping agent, reversed the basal vasodilatory effect of ACEI in the pulmonary vasculature. Immunoblot analysis showed decreased p21 and eNOS expression in the lung in MCT+/ACEI- rats, whereas their expression was preserved with enalapril treatment. Conclusions - ACEI suppresses the development of MCT-induced PAH in rats. The mechanism of action might involve the preservation of p21 and eNOS expression. Both p21 and endothelium-derived NO appear to have protective roles in the development of PAH.
- Nitric oxide synthase