Estrogen metabolism in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Zilmer Johansen, Anne Katrine (2014) Estrogen metabolism in pulmonary arterial hypertension. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a devastating and progressive vasculopathy of the pulmonary arteries for which there is no cure. There is an urgent need for more effective therapies. PAH is characterised by elevated pulmonary arterial pressures and obstructive vascular lesions in the distal vasculature by excessive cellular proliferation. As a result, the right ventricle is placed under excessive strain resulting in adaptive hypertrophy which progresses to maladaptive hypertrophy and failure. PAH is more common in women than in men suggesting that estrogens may be integral to disease pathogenesis. Understanding the biological basis for this sex difference would offer a new treatment paradigm in this devastating cardiovascular disease. Here, we challenged the concept that the estrogen metabolic axis is dysregulated in PAH

New insights have revealed a potential contribution of the estrogen metabolizing enzyme, cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1) in the development of PAH. 17β-estradiol (17β-E2) and estrone (E1) are metabolized by the activity of CYP1B1 to the 2-, 4- and 16-hydroxylated estrogens. Here, we defined the role of CYP1B1 in the pathogenesis of PAH. CYP1B1 expression was increased in both experimental (hypoxia and SU5416+hypoxia) and in heritable and idiopathic PAH (HPAH and IPAH, respectively). Both male and female CYP1B1 knockout mice (CYP1B1-/-) were challenged with chronic hypoxia to induce PAH as assessed by right ventricular systolic pressures (RVSP), right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH) and pulmonary vascular remodeling. CYP1B1-/- mice were protected against hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension (PH). CYP1B1 inhibition with the highly potent and selective inhibitor 2,3',4,5'-tetramethoxystilbene (TMS; 3 mg/kg/day by intra-peritoneal injection) attenuated the development of hypoxia-induced PH. Only moderate effects were observed with CYP1B1 inhibition in monocrotaline-induced PH, despite improving survival rates. Female mice that over-express the human serotonin transporter gene (SERT+ mice) develop a spontaneous PAH phenotype at 5 months of age which is dependent on circulating levels of 17β-E2. Here, we provide evidence that the estrogen metabolic axis is dysregulated in these mice and this may underlie their PAH phenotype. The estrogen synthesizing enzyme aromatase and CYP1B1 was increased in whole lung homogenates of female SERT+ mice compared to wild-type mice. Despite increased expression of aromatase, 17β-E2 concentrations were unchanged. CYP1B1 inhibition with TMS (1.5mg/kg/day by intra-peritoneal injection) attenuated the PAH phenotype in female SERT+ mice as assessed by RVSP and pulmonary vascular remodeling

Other studies have identified that the 16-hydroxylated metabolites of estrogens (17β-E2 and E1) are the only CYP1B1 metabolites to induce cellular proliferation, with the most profound effects observed with 16α-hydroxyestrone (16α-OHE1). In mice exposed to chronic hypoxia, urinary concentrations of 16α-OHE1 were increased. Chronic dosing of 16α-OHE1 in mice (1.5mg/kg/day by intra-peritoneal injection for 28 days) resulted in the development of a PAH phenotype in female mice only. 16α-OHE1 induced cellular proliferation in human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (hPASMCs) and this was inhibited by a scavenger of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and an inhibitor of extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2). 4-hydroxylation is the predominant metabolic pathway activated by CYP1B1 activity and we therefore investigated the effects of the 4-hydroxylated metabolite of 17β-E2 in vivo. 4-hydroxyestradiol (4-OHE2) had no effects on PAH parameters in mice (1.5mg/kg/day by intra-peritoneal injection for 28 days). However, serotonin-induced vasoconstriction of the intra-pulmonary arteries was dramatically reduced in arteries harvested from mice dosed with 4-OHE2. More recent studies have identified that 4-hydroxyestrone (4-OHE1) is the predominant CYP1B1 metabolite in the lungs of mice. Interestingly, despite evidence for a pathogenic function of CYP1B1 activity in vivo, 4-OHE1 inhibited cellular proliferation in hPASMCs as assessed by thymidine incorporation whilst no effects were reported on cell viability.

We provide evidence for an altered estrogen metabolic axis in PAH, by in part, overexpression of the putatively pathological CYP1B1. Yet, the dynamic estrogen metabolic profile in pulmonary vascular cells remains undetermined. To address this, we developed a high fidelity HPLC method to quantitatively fate map estrogen metabolism in hPASMCs to determine the dynamic regulation of estrogen metabolism in PAH. We provide the first direct evidence that hPASMCs metabolize 17β-E2 and that estrogen metabolism is pathologically altered in PAH. Our metabolic screen revealed a prominent role for 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzymes in hPASMCs by rapid formation of E1 in all groups studied, increasing with time, with the highest activity in male control hPASMCs and the lowest activity in female control hPASMCs. In female control hPASMCs there was no evidence of CYP activity, whilst numerous metabolites were formed in the other groups studied. The formation of the pathogenic 16α-hydroxylated estrogens was only evident in PASMCs from both male and female PAH patients at 24 and 48 hours. Globally, this study introduces a platform to elucidate effects of PAH insults and potential therapies on the estrogen-metabolic profile in pulmonary vascular cells.
Overall, we provide eminent evidence that the estrogen metabolic axis is pathologically altered in PAH and is influenced by gender. This provides a strong rationale for the application of estrogen-sensitive therapies in the management of this highly female discriminating disease.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Health
Supervisor's Name: MacLean, Professor Margaret
Date of Award: 2014
Depositing User: Anne Katrine Zilmer Johansen
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5199
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2014 12:31
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2014 12:35

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