Fatty acid metabolism promotes TRPV4 activity in lung microvascular endothelial cells in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Nicolas Philip, Xin Yun, Hongyang Pi, Samuel Murray, Zack Hill, Jay Fonticella, Preston Perez, Cissy Zhang, Wimal Pathmasiri, Susan Sumner, Laura Servinsky, Haiyang Jiang, John C. Huetsch, William M. Oldham, Scott Visovatti, Peter J. Leary, Sina A. Gharib, Evan Brittain, Catherine E. Simpson, Anne LeLarissa A. Shimoda, Karthik Suresh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a morbid disease characterized by significant lung endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction. Prior work has shown that microvascular endothelial cells (MVECs) isolated from animals with experimental PAH and patients with PAH exhibit significant abnormalities in metabolism and calcium signaling. With regards to metabolism, we and others have shown evidence of increased aerobic glycolysis and evidence of increased utilization of alternate fuel sources (such as fatty acids) in PAH EC. In the realm of calcium signaling, our prior work linked increased activity of the transient receptor potential vanilloid-4 (TRPV4) channel to increased proliferation of MVECs isolated from the Sugen/Hypoxia rat model of PAH (SuHx-MVECs). However, the relationship between metabolic shifts and calcium abnormalities was not clear. Specifically, whether shifts in metabolism were responsible for increasing TRPV4 channel activity in SuHx-MVECs was not known. In this study, using human data, serum samples from SuHx rats, and SuHx-MVECs, we describe the consequences of increased MVEC fatty acid oxidation in PAH. In human samples, we observed an increase in long-chain fatty acid levels that was associated with PAH severity. Next, using SuHx rats and SuHx-MVECs, we observed increased intracellular levels of lipids. We also show that increasing intracellular lipid content increases TRPV4 activity, whereas inhibiting fatty acid oxidation normalizes basal calcium levels in SuHx-MVECs. By exploring the fate of fatty acid-derived carbons, we observed that the metabolite linking increased intracellular lipids to TRPV4 activity was b-hydroxybutyrate (BOHB), a product of fatty acid oxidation. Finally, we show that BOHB supplementation alone is sufficient to sensitize the TRPV4 channel in rat and mouse MVECs. Returning to humans, we observe a transpulmonary BOHB gradient in human patients with PAH. Thus, we establish a link between fatty acid oxidation, BOHB production, and TRPV4 activity in MVECs in PAH. These data provide new insight into metabolic regulation of calcium signaling in lung MVECs in PAH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L252-L265
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • PAH
  • calcium
  • endothelial cells
  • fatty acid oxidation
  • metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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