Transforming growth factor-β1 induces Nox4 NAD(P)H oxidase and reactive oxygen species-dependent proliferation in human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells

Anne Sturrock, Barbara Cahill, Kimberly Norman, Thomas P. Huecksteadt, Kenneth Hill, Karl Sanders, S. V. Karwande, James C. Stringham, David A. Bull, Martin Gleich, Thomas P. Kennedy, John R. Hoidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

355 Scopus citations


Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is abundantly expressed in pulmonary hypertension, but its effect on the pulmonary circulation remains unsettled. We studied the consequences of TGF-β1 stimulation on freshly isolated human pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (HPASMC). TGF-β1 initially promoted differentiation, with upregulated expression of smooth muscle contractile proteins. TGF-β1 also induced expression of Nox4, the only NAD(P)H oxidase membrane homolog found in HPASMC, through a signaling pathway involving Smad 2/3 but not mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases. TGF-β1 likewise increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), an effect significantly reduced by the NAD(P)H oxidase flavoprotein inhibitor diphenylene iodonium (DPI) and by Nox4 siRNAs. In the absence of TGF-β1, Nox4 was present in freshly cultured cells but progressively lost with each passage in culture, paralleling a decrease in ROS production by HPASMC over time. At a later time point (72 h), TGF-β1 promoted HPASMC proliferation in a manner partially inhibited by Nox4 small interfering RNA and dominant negative Smad 2/3, indicating that TGF-β1 stimulates HPASMC growth in part by a redox-dependent mechanism mediated through induction of Nox4. HPASMC activation of the MAP kinases ERK1/2 was reduced by the NAD(P)H oxidase inhibitors DPI and 4-(2-aminoethyl)benzenesulfonyl fluoride, suggesting that TGF-β1 may facilitate proliferation by upregulating Nox4 and ROS production, with transient oxidative inactivation of phosphatases and augmentation of growth signaling cascades. These findings suggest that Nox4 is the relevant Nox homolog in HPASMC. This is the first observation that TGF-β1 regulates Nox4, with important implications for mechanisms of pulmonary vascular remodeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L661-L673
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • ERK 1/2
  • Hypertrophy
  • Phosphatases
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • Rac 1
  • Smad 2/3
  • Superoxide anion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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