Activated Endothelial TGFβ1 Signaling Promotes Venous Thrombus Non-Resolution in Mice Via Endothelin-1: Potential Role for Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension

Magdalena Ludmila Bochenek, Christiane Leidinger, Nico S Rosinus, Rajinikanth Gogiraju, Stefan Guth, Lukas Hobohm, Kerstin Jurk, Eckhard Mayer, Thomas Münzel, Mareike Lankeit, Markus Bosmann, Stavros Konstantinides, Katrin Schäfer
Circulation Research 2019 November 21
Rationale: Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) is characterized by defective thrombus resolution, pulmonary artery obstruction and vasculopathy. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) signaling mutations have been implicated in pulmonary arterial hypertension, whereas TGFβ's role in the pathophysiology of CTEPH is unknown. Objective: To determine whether defective TGFβ signaling in endothelial cells contributes to thrombus non-resolution and fibrosis. Methods and Results: Venous thrombosis was induced by inferior vena cava ligation in mice with genetic deletion of TGFβ1 in platelets (Plt.TGFβ-KO) or TGFβ type II receptors in endothelial cells (End.TGFβRII-KO). Pulmonary endarterectomy specimens from CTEPH patients were analyzed using immunohistochemistry. Primary human and mouse endothelial cells were studied using confocal microscopy, quantitative PCR and western blot. Absence of TGFβ1 in platelets did not alter platelet number or function, but was associated with faster venous thrombus resolution, whereas endothelial TGFβRII deletion resulted in larger, more fibrotic and higher vascularized venous thrombi. Increased circulating active TGFβ1 levels, endothelial TGFβRI/ALK1 and TGFβRI/ALK5 expression were detected in End.TGFβRII-KO mice, and activated TGFβ signaling was present in vessel-rich areas of CTEPH specimens. CTEPH-ECs and murine endothelial cells lacking TGFβRII simultaneously expressed endothelial and mesenchymal markers and transcription factors regulating endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition, similar to TGFβ1-stimulated endothelial cells. Mechanistically, increased endothelin-1 levels were detected in TGFβRII-KO endothelial cells, murine venous thrombi or endarterectomy specimens and plasma of CTEPH patients, and endothelin-1 overexpression was prevented by inhibition of ALK5, and to a lesser extent of ALK1. ALK5 inhibition and endothelin receptor antagonization inhibited mesenchymal lineage conversion in TGFβ1-exposed human and murine endothelial cells and improved venous thrombus resolution and pulmonary vaso-occlusions in End.TGFβRII-KO mice. Conclusions: Endothelial TGFβ1 signaling via type I receptors and endothelin-1 contribute to mesenchymal lineage transition and thrombofibrosis, which were prevented by blocking endothelin receptors. Our findings may have relevant implications for the prevention and management of CTEPH.

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