Hypoxic pulmonary hypertension: Role of superoxide and NADPH oxidase (gp91phox)

John Q. Liu, Igor N. Zelko, Efua M. Erbynn, James S.K. Sham, Rodney J. Folz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

253 Scopus citations


Chronic exposure to low-O2 tension induces pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), which is characterized by vascular remodeling and enhanced vasoreactivity. Recent evidence suggests that reactive oxygen species (ROS) may be involved in both processes. In this study, we critically examine the role superoxide and NADPH oxidase plays in the development of chronic hypoxic PAH. Chronic hypoxia (CH; 10% O2 for 3 wk) caused a significant increase in superoxide production in intrapulmonary arteries (IPA) of wild-type (WT) mice as measured by lucigenin-enhanced chemiluminescence. The CH-induced increase in the generation of ROS was obliterated in NADPH oxidase (gp91phox) knockout (KO) mice, suggesting that NADPH oxidase was the major source of ROS. Importantly, pathological changes associated with CH-induced PAH (mean right ventricular pressure, medial wall thickening of small pulmonary arteries, and right heart hypertrophy) were completely abolished in NADPH oxidase (gp91 phox) KO mice. CH potentiated vasoconstrictor responses of isolated IPAs to both 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and the thromboxane mimetic U-46619. Administration of CuZn superoxide dismutase to isolated IPA significantly reduced CH-enhanced superoxide levels and reduced the CH-enhanced vasoconstriction to 5-HT and U-46619. Additionally, CH-enhanced superoxide production and vasoconstrictor activity seen in WT IPAs were markedly reduced in IPAs isolated from NADPH oxidase (gp91phox) KO mice. These results demonstrate a pivotal role for gp91phox-dependent superoxide production in the pathogenesis of CH-induced PAH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L2-L10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Chronic hypoxia
  • Normoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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