Modulation of the LKB1-AMPK Signalling Pathway Underpins Hypoxic Pulmonary Vasoconstriction and Pulmonary Hypertension
Perhaps the defining characteristic of pulmonary arteries is the process of hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) which, under physiological conditions, supports ventilation-perfusion matching in the lung by diverting blood flow away from oxygen deprived areas of the lung to oxygen rich regions. However, when alveolar hypoxia is more widespread, either at altitude or with disease (e.g., cystic fibrosis), HPV may lead to hypoxic pulmonary hypertension. HPV is driven by the intrinsic response to hypoxia of pulmonary arterial smooth muscle and endothelial cells, which are acutely sensitive to relatively small changes in pO2 and have evolved to monitor oxygen supply and thus address ventilation-perfusion mismatch. There is now a consensus that the inhibition by hypoxia of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation represents a key step towards the induction of HPV, but the precise nature of the signalling pathway(s) engaged thereafter remains open to debate. We will consider the role of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and liver kinase B1 (LKB1), an upstream kinase through which AMPK is intimately coupled to changes in oxygen supply via mitochondrial metabolism. A growing body of evidence, from our laboratory and others, suggests that modulation of the LKB1-AMPK signalling pathway underpins both hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction and the development of pulmonary hypertension.
KeywordsLKB1 AMPK Hypoxia Pulmonary artery Vasoconstriction Kv1.5
The work described was supported by Programme Grants from the Wellcome Trust (81195), and the British Heart Foundation (29885).
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