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Differential effects of integrin‐linked kinase inhibitor Cpd22 on severe pulmonary hypertension in male and female rats


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive fatal disease with no cure. Inhibition of integrin-linked kinase (ILK) reverses experimental pulmonary hypertension (PH) in male mice, but its effect on severe experimental PH in either male or female animals is unknown. We examined effects of ILK inhibitor Cpd22 on rats with SU5416/hypoxia-induced PH; treatment was performed at six to eight weeks after PH initiation. Five weeks after PH initiation, male and female rats developed similar levels of PH. Eight weeks after PH induction, vehicle-treated male rats had more severe PH than females. Cpd22-treated males, but not females, showed complete suppression of phospho-Akt in small pulmonary arteries (PAs), significantly lower PA medial thickness and percentage of fully occluded arteries, decreased systolic right ventricle (RV) pressure, PA pressure, RV hypertrophy, RV end-diastolic pressure, and improved RV contractility index compared to vehicle-treated group. Cpd22 suppressed proliferation of human male and female PAH pulmonary artery vascular smooth muscle cell (PAVSMC). 17β-estradiol had no effect as a single agent but significantly attenuated Cpd22-dependent inhibition of proliferation in female, but not male, PAH PAVSMC. Taken together, these data demonstrate that male rats develop more severe PH than females but respond better to Cpd22 treatment by reducing pulmonary vascular remodeling, PH, and RV hypertrophy and improving RV functional outcomes. 17β-estradiol diminishes anti-proliferative effect of Cpd22 in female, but not male, human PAH PAVSMC. These findings suggest potential attractiveness of ILK inhibition to reduce established PH in males and suggest that the combination with estrogen-lowering drugs could be considered to maximize anti-proliferative and anti-remodeling effects of ILK inhibitors in females.

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