Over the past years, a critical role for the immune system and in particular, for mast cells, in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension (PH) has emerged. However, the way in which mast cells promote PH is still poorly understood. Here, we investigated the mechanisms by which mast cells may contribute to PH, specifically focusing on the interaction between the innate and adaptive immune response and the role of B-cells and autoimmunity. Experiments were performed in Sprague Dawley rats and B-cell deficient JH-KO rats in the monocrotaline, sugen-hypoxia and the aortic banding model of PH. Hemodynamics, cell infiltration, IL-6 expression, and vascular remodeling were analyzed. Gene array analyses revealed constituents of immunoglobulins as most prominently regulated mast cell dependent genes in the lung in experimental PH. IL-6 was shown to link mast cells to B-cells, as a) IL-6 was upregulated and colocalized with mast cells and was reduced by mast cell stabilizers, and b) IL-6 or mast cell blockade reduced B-cells in lungs of monocrotaline-treated rats. A functional role for B-cells in PH was demonstrated, in that either blocking B-cells by an anti-CD20 antibody or B-cell deficiency in JH-KO rats attenuated right ventricular systolic pressure and vascular remodeling in experimental PH. We here identify a mast cell - B-cell axis driven by IL-6 as critical immune pathway in the pathophysiology of PH. Our results provide novel insights into the role of the immune system in PH, which may be therapeutically exploited by targeted immunotherapy.
- pulmonary hypertension
- B cells
- mast cells
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology