Differential and opposing effects of imatinib on LPS- and ventilator-induced lung injury

E. Letsiou, A. N. Rizzo, S. Sammani, P. Naureckas, J. R. Jacobson, J. G.N. Garcia, S. M. Dudek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Endothelial dysfunction underlies the pathophysiology of vascular disorders such as acute lung injury (ALI) syndromes. Recent work has identified the Abl family kinases (c-Abl and Arg) as important regulators of endothelial cell (EC) barrier function and suggests that their inhibition by currently available pharmaceutical agents such as imatinib may be EC protective. Here we describe novel and differential effects of imatinib in regulating lung pathophysiology in two clinically relevant experimental models of ALI. Imatinib attenuates endotoxin (LPS)-induced vascular leak and lung inflammation in mice but exacerbates these features in a mouse model of ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). We next explored these discrepant observations in vitro through investigation of the roles for Abl kinases in cultured lung EC. Imatinib attenuates LPS-induced lung EC permeability, restores VE-cadherin junctions, and reduces inflammation by suppressing VCAM-1 expression and inflammatory cytokine (IL-8 and IL-6) secretion. Conversely, in EC exposed to pathological 18% cyclic stretch (CS) (in vitro model of VILI), imatinib decreases VE-cadherin expression, disrupts cell-cell junctions, and increases IL-8 levels. Downregulation of c-Abl expression with siRNA attenuates LPS-induced VCAM-1 expression, whereas specific reduction of Arg reduces VE-cadherin expression in 18% CS-challenged ECs to mimic the imatinib effects. In summary, imatinib exhibits pulmonary barrier-protective and antiinflammatory effects in LPS-injured mice and lung EC; however, imatinib exacerbates VILI as well as dysfunction in 18% CS-EC. These findings identify the Abl family kinases as important modulators of EC function and potential therapeutic targets in lung injury syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L259-L269
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • ARDS
  • Arg
  • C-Abl
  • Endothelium
  • Imatinib
  • LPS
  • Permeability
  • Stretch
  • VILI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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