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Placental growth factor inhibition targets pulmonary angiogenesis and represents a novel therapy for hepatopulmonary syndrome in mice

  • Raevens, Sarah
  • Geerts, Anja
  • Paridaens, Annelies
  • Lefere, Sander
  • Verhelst, Xavier
  • Hoorens, Anne
  • Van Dorpe, Jo
  • Maes, Tania
  • Bracke, Ken
  • Casteleyn, Christophe
  • Jonckx, Bart
  • Horvatits, Thomas
  • Fuhrmann, Valentin
  • Van Vlierberghe, Hans
  • Van Steenkiste, Christophe
  • Devisscher, Lindsey
  • Colle, Isabelle
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2018
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Hepatopulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a severe complication of cirrhosis with increased risk of mortality. Pulmonary microvascular alterations are key features of HPS; but underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood, and studies on HPS are limited to rats. Placental growth factor (PlGF), a proangiogenic molecule that is selectively involved in pathological angiogenesis, may play an important role in HPS development; however, its role has never been investigated. In this study, we validated an HPS model by common bile duct ligation (CBDL) in mice, investigated the kinetic changes in pulmonary angiogenesis and inflammation during HPS development, and provide evidence for a novel therapeutic strategy by targeting pathological angiogenesis. Mice with CBDL developed hypoxemia and intrapulmonary shunting on a background of liver fibrosis. Pulmonary alterations included increased levels of proangiogenic and inflammatory markers, which was confirmed in serum of human HPS patients. Increased PlGF production in HPS mice originated from alveolar type II cells and lung macrophages, as demonstrated by immunofluorescent staining. Dysfunctional vessel formation in CBDL mice was visualized by microscopy on vascular corrosion casts. Both prophylactic and therapeutic anti-PlGF (PlGF) antibody treatment impeded HPS development, as demonstrated by significantly less intrapulmonary shunting and improved gas exchange. PlGF treatment decreased endothelial cell dysfunction in vivo and in vitro and was accompanied by reduced pulmonary inflammation. Importantly, PlGF therapy did not affect liver alterations, supporting PlGF's ability to directly target the pulmonary compartment. Conclusion: CBDL in mice induces HPS, which is mediated by PlGF production; PlGF treatment improves experimental HPS by counteracting pulmonary angiogenesis and might be an attractive therapeutic strategy for human HPS.

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