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doi: 10.1086/674337; PubMed Central: PMCID 4070795
Pulmonary or systemic infections and hypoxemic respiratory failure are among the leading causes of admission to intensive care units, and these conditions frequently exist in sequence or in tandem. Inflammatory responses to infections are reproduced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) engaging Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). Apoptosis is a hallmark of lung injury in sepsis. This study was conducted to determine whether preexposure to LPS or hypoxia modulated the survival of pulmonary artery endothelial cells (PAECs). We also investigated the role TLR4 receptor expression plays in apoptosis due to these conditions. Bovine PAECs were cultured in hypoxic or normoxic environments and treated with LPS. TLR4 antagonist TAK-242 was used to probe the role played by TLR4 receptors in cell survival. Cell apoptosis and survival were measured by caspase 3 activity and 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) incorporation. TLR4 expression and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) production were also determined. LPS increased caspase 3 activity in a TAK-242-sensitive manner and decreased MTT incorporation. Apoptosis was decreased in PAECs preconditioned with hypoxia prior to LPS exposure. LPS increased TNF-α production, and hypoxic preconditioning blunted it. Hypoxic preconditioning reduced LPS-induced TLR4 messenger RNA and TLR4 protein. TAK-242 decreased to baseline the LPS-stimulated expression of TLR4 messenger RNA regardless of environmental conditions. In contrast, LPS followed by hypoxia substantially increased apoptosis and cell death. In conclusion, protection from LPS-stimulated PAEC apoptosis by hypoxic preconditioning is attributable in part to reduction in TLR4 expression. If these signaling pathways apply to septic patients, they may account for differing sensitivities of individuals to acute lung injury depending on oxygen tensions in PAECs in vivo.