Ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) is associated with activated inflammatory signaling, such as cytokine production by endothelial and epithelial cells and macrophages, although the precise mechanisms of inflammatory activation induced by VILI-relevant cyclic stretch (CS) amplitude remain poorly understood. We show that exposure of human pulmonary endothelial cells (EC) to chronic CS at 18% linear distension (18% CS), but not at physiologically relevant 5% CS, induces “EC-activated phenotype,” which is characterized by time-dependent increase in ICAM1 and VCAM1 expression. A preconditioning of 18% CS also increased in a time-dependent fashion the release of soluble ICAM1 (sICAM1) and IL-8. Investigation of potential signaling mechanisms of CS-induced EC inflammatory activation showed that 18% CS, but not 5% CS, induced time-dependent upregulation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), as monitored by increased protein expression and VEGFR2 tyrosine phosphorylation. Both CS-induced VEGFR2 expression and tyrosine phosphorylation were abrogated by cotreatment with reactive oxygen species inhibitor, N-acetyl cysteine. Molecular inhibition of VEGFR2 expression by gene-specific siRNA or treatment with VEGFR2 pharmacological inhibitor SU-1498 attenuated CS-induced activation of ICAM1 and VCAM1 expression and sICAM1 release. Chronic EC preconditioning at 18% CS augmented EC inflammation and barrier-disruptive response induced by proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α. This effect of chronic 18% CS preconditioning was attenuated by siRNA-induced VEGFR2 knockdown. This study demonstrates for the first time a VEGFR2-dependent mechanism of EC inflammatory activation induced by pathological CS. We conclude that, despite the recognized role of VEGF as a prosurvival and angiogenic factor, excessive activation of VEGFR2 signaling by high-tidal-volume lung mechanical ventilation may contribute to ventilator-induced (biotrauma) lung inflammation and barrier dysfunction by augmenting cell response to VILI-associated inflammatory mediators.
- lung endothelium
- cyclic stretch
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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