Sildenafil attenuates hypoxic pulmonary remodelling by inhibiting bone marrow progenitor cells

Shirley Favre, Elisa Gambini, Patrizia Nigro, Alessandro Scopece, Paola Bianciardi, Anna Caretti, Giulio Pompilio, Antonio F. Corno, Giuseppe Vassalli, Ludwig K. von Segesser, Michele Samaja, Giuseppina Milano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recruitment of bone marrow (BM)-derived progenitor cells to the lung is related to pulmonary remodelling and the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension (PH). Although sildenafil is a known target in PH treatment, the underlying molecular mechanism is still elusive. To test the hypothesis that the therapeutic effect of sildenafil is linked to the reduced recruitment of BM-derived progenitor cells, we induced pulmonary remodelling in rats by two-week exposure to chronic hypoxia (CH, 10% oxygen), a trigger of BM-derived progenitor cells. Rats were treated with either placebo (saline) or sildenafil (1.4 mg/kg/day ip) during CH. Control rats were kept in room air (21% oxygen) with no treatment. As expected, sildenafil attenuated the CH-induced increase in right ventricular systolic pressure and right ventricular hypertrophy. However, sildenafil suppressed the CH-induced increase in c-kit+ cells in the adventitia of pulmonary arteries. Moreover, sildenafil reduced the number of c-kit+ cells that colocalize with tyrosine kinase receptor 2 (VEGF-R2) and CD68 (a marker for macrophages), indicating a positive effect on moderating hypoxia-induced smooth muscle cell proliferation and inflammation without affecting the pulmonary levels of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α. Furthermore, sildenafil depressed the number of CXCR4+ cells. Collectively, these findings indicate that the improvement in pulmonary haemodynamic by sildenafil is linked to decreased recruitment of BM-derived c-kit+ cells in the pulmonary tissue. The attenuation of the recruitment of BM-derived c-kit+ cells by sildenafil may provide novel therapeutic insights into the control of pulmonary remodelling.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Bone marrow progenitor cells
  • C-kit cells
  • Chronic hypoxia
  • CXCR4 receptor
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Sildenafil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sildenafil attenuates hypoxic pulmonary remodelling by inhibiting bone marrow progenitor cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this