Protein kinases in vascular smooth muscle tone - role in the pulmonary vasculature and hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction

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Hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction (HPV) is an adaptive mechanism that in the normal animal diverts blood away from poorly ventilated areas of the lung, thereby maintaining optimal ventilation-perfusion matching. In global hypoxia however, such as in respiratory disease or at altitude, it causes detrimental increases in pulmonary vascular resistance and pulmonary artery (PA) pressure. The precise intracellular pathways and mechanisms underlying HPV remain unclear, although it is now recognised that both an elevation in smooth muscle intracellular [Ca2+] and a concomitant increase in Ca2+ sensitivity are involved. Several key intracellular protein kinases have been proposed as components of the signal transduction pathways leading to development of HPV, specifically Rho kinase, non-receptor tyrosine kinases (NRTK), p38 mitogen activated protein (MAP) kinase, and protein kinase C (PKC). All of these have been implicated to a greater or lesser extent in pathways leading to Ca2+ sensitisation, and in some cases regulation of intracellular [Ca2+] as well. In this article, we review the role of these key protein kinases in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle (VSM) constriction, applying what is known in the systemic circulation to the pulmonary circulation and HPV We conclude that the strongest evidence for direct involvement of protein kinases in the mechanisms of HPV concerns a central role for Rho kinase in Ca2+ sensitisation, and a potential role for Src-family kinases in both modulation of Ca2+ entry via capacitative Ca2+ entry (CCE) and activation of Rho kinase, though others are likely to have indirect or modulatory influences. In addition, we speculate that Src family kinases may provide a central interface between the proposed hypoxia-induced generation of reactive oxygen species by mitochondria and both the elevation in intracellular [Ca2+] and Rho kinase mediated Ca2+ sensitisation. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207 - 231
Number of pages25
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


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