NYMC Faculty Publications

Pluripotent Hematopoietic Stem Cells Augment α-Adrenergic Receptor-Mediated Contraction of Pulmonary Artery and Contribute to the Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Hypertension

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American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology

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Second Department


Third Department



Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a multicellular and progressive disease with a high mortality rate. Among many cell types, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are incriminated in the pathogenesis of PH. However, our understanding of the mechanisms that increase HSCs in blood and lungs of hypertensive animals or patients and the role played by HSCs in the pathogenesis of PH remains elusive. Studies suggest that glycolysis is critical for the survival and growth of HSCs. In various cell types from hypertensive lungs of animals and patients, glycolysis and the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) activity are increased. Herein, we demonstrated in mice that chronic hypoxia increased HSCs (CD34+, CD117+, CD133+, CD34+/CD117+, and CD34+/CD133+) in bone marrow and blood and around hypertensive pulmonary arteries in a time-dependent manner. Intriguingly, we found fewer CD133+ cells in the bone marrow of C57BL/6 mice compared with Sv129J mice, and C57BL mice developed less severe chronic hypoxia-elicited PH and heart failure than Sv129J mice. Similarly, the numbers of CD34+ and CD117+ cells in blood of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) were higher (>3-fold) compared with healthy individuals. By allogeneic bone marrow transplantation, we found that GFP+ bone marrow cells infiltrated the lungs and accumulated around the pulmonary arteries in lungs of hypoxic mice, and these cells contributed to increased α-adrenergic receptor-mediated contraction of the pulmonary artery cultured in hypoxia. Inhibition of G6PD activity with (3β,5α)-3,21-dihydroxypregnan-20-one, a novel and potent G6PD inhibitor, decreased HSCs in bone marrow, blood, and lungs of hypoxic mice and reduced α-agonist-induced contraction of the pulmonary artery and established hypoxia-induced PH. We did not observe CD133+ cells around the pulmonary arteries in the lungs of chronically hypoxic G6PD-deficient mice. Furthermore, knockdown of G6PD and inhibition of G6PD activity: 1) downregulated canonical and noncanonical Wnt and Fzd receptors genes; 2) upregulated Bmpr1a; 3) decreased Cxcl12, and 4) reduced HSC (CD117+ and CD133+) numbers. In all, our findings demonstrate unexpected function for bone marrow-derived HSCs in augmenting α-adrenergic receptor-mediated contraction of pulmonary arteries and remodeling of pulmonary arteries that contribute to increase pulmonary vascular resistance in PAH patients and hypoxic mice and suggest that G6PD, by regulating expression of genes in the WNT and BMPR signaling, contributed to increase and release of HSCs from the bone marrow in response to hypoxic stimuli.

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