Research findings breathe new life into lung disease

October 24, 2012

It turns out the muscle cells on the outside of blood vessels have been wrongly accused for instigating lung disease. New research shows that while these muscle cells are responsible for constricting or dilating the blood vessels, they are not responsible for sensing the amount of oxygen that gets to the lungs. That message comes from the endothelial cells – special cells that line the blood vessels – along a "signalling pathway."

When a person is low on oxygen, blood vessels throughout the body expand to improve the delivery of this vital molecule to the tissues. The one exception is that when oxygen is low in the lungs, blood vessels there constrict. When this condition persists, it causes – a where the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs become smaller – and makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood through the lungs. This leads to enlargement of the right heart, called right heart failure.

Dr. Wolfgang Kuebler, a Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute scientist at St. Michael's Hospital, has found that the endothelial cells play a much larger role in the constriction of blood vessels in response to the lack of oxygen and in subsequent pulmonary hypertension, than previously believed. The findings of his study, which was conducted on mice, have been published online in the , a high impact basic science journal.

"The vascular endothelial cells have always been regarded as a bystander, but we've discovered that lung disease in response to low oxygen originates at this level, that the message is sent by these cells," said Dr. Kuebler. He said that if there were a way to block, or inhibit, this communication along the signalling pathway between the endothelial cells and the , we could potentially prevent right heart failure, a fairly common disease among patients with .

Explore further: Potential new approach to treatment of chronic lung diseases

Related Stories

Potential new approach to treatment of chronic lung diseases

March 26, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at UCD have identified a potential new treatment for life-threatening complications associated with chronic obstructive lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Chronic obstructive ...

Researchers discover new blood vessel-generating cell with therapeutic potential

October 16, 2012
Researchers at the University of Helsinki believe they have discovered stem cells that play a decisive role in the growth of new blood vessels. If researchers learn to isolate and efficiently produce these stem cells found ...

Dr. Larissa Shimoda to discuss mechanisms of hypoxic pulmonary hypertension

April 11, 2011
When muscles and organs are deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen--a condition called hypoxia--the body's usual responses include increased circulation and a slight drop in blood pressure in the blood vessels serving the ...

New findings may help explain high blood pressure in pregnancy

October 31, 2011
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine researchers have discovered that the infiltration of white blood cells into an expectant mother's blood vessels may explain high blood pressure in pregnancy.

Protein is potential new treatment target for adult pulmonary hypertension

October 17, 2011
A protein critical to development appears to have a grave impact on lungs exposed to smoking and air pollution, researchers report.

Recommended for you

Are stem cells the link between bacteria and cancer?

August 17, 2017
Gastric carcinoma is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths, primarily because most patients present at an advanced stage of the disease. The main cause of this cancer is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, ...

Two-step process leads to cell immortalization and cancer

August 17, 2017
A mutation that helps make cells immortal is critical to the development of a tumor, but new research at the University of California, Berkeley suggests that becoming immortal is a more complicated process than originally ...

New Pathology Atlas maps genes in cancer to accelerate progress in personalized medicine

August 17, 2017
A new Pathology Atlas is launched today with an analysis of all human genes in all major cancers showing the consequence of their corresponding protein levels for overall patient survival. The difference in expression patterns ...

Female mouse embryos actively remove male reproductive systems

August 17, 2017
A protein called COUP-TFII determines whether a mouse embryo develops a male reproductive tract, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and their colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. The ...

New technique overcomes genetic cause of infertility

August 17, 2017
Scientists have created healthy offspring from genetically infertile male mice, offering a potential new approach to tackling a common genetic cause of human infertility.

Inhibiting a protein found to reduce progression of Alzheimer's and ALS in mice

August 17, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with Genetech Inc. and universities in Hamburg and San Francisco has found that inhibiting the creation of a protein leads to a reduction in the progression of Alzheimer's disease ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.