PHA Gabrielle Miyara & Rachel Hoyt Memorial Proof of Concept Research Grant Winner 2012

Guofei Zhou, PhDGuofei Zhou, PhD

Department of Pediatrics and University of Illinois Cancer Center
University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago
Title: “AMPK and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension”
Term: December 1, 2012 through November 30, 2013

Summary of Research Project:

Pulmonary Artery Hypertension (PAH) is a devastating disease with long-term morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells (PASMC) cause the development and progression of high pulmonary vascular tone observed in PAH patients. Although it is well established that PASMC contribute to pulmonary artery remodeling during the pathogenesis of PAH, the molecular mechanisms underlying the survival of PASMC remains unclear. Hypoxia, a well-known cause of PAH, activates adenosine monophosphate protein kinase (AMPK) in some cells. Our study investigates whether AMPK plays a role in the survival of PASMC during hypoxia. We hypothesize that activation of AMPK during hypoxia prevents apoptosis and induces autophagy, resulting in the survival of PASMC and the development of PAH.

Our studies suggest that AMPK may be a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of PAH. Completion of the proposed studies will provide novel insights into the understanding of pathogenesis of PAH, which may result in the development of innovative approaches for the treatment of patients with this disease.