Intratracheal Gene Delivery of SERCA2a Ameliorates Chronic Post-Capillary Pulmonary Hypertension: A Large Animal Model

Jaume Aguero, Kiyotake Ishikawa, Lahouaria Hadri, Carlos G. Santos-Gallego, Kenneth M. Fish, Erik Kohlbrenner, Nadjib Hammoudi, Changwon Kho, Ahyoung Lee, Borja Ibáñez, Ana García-Alvarez, Krisztina Zsebo, Bradley A. Maron, Maria Plataki, Valentin Fuster, Jane A. Leopold, Roger J. Hajjar

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56 Scopus citations


Background Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is characterized by pulmonary arterial remodeling that results in increased pulmonary vascular resistance, right ventricular (RV) failure, and premature death. Down-regulation of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase 2a (SERCA2a) in the pulmonary vasculature leads to perturbations in calcium ion (Ca2+) homeostasis and transition of pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells to a proliferative phenotype. Objectives We assessed the feasibility of sustained pulmonary vascular SERCA2a gene expression using aerosolized delivery of adeno-associated virus type 1 (AAV1) in a large animal model of chronic PH and evaluated the efficacy of gene transfer regarding progression of pulmonary vascular and RV remodeling. Methods A model of chronic post-capillary PH was created in Yorkshire swine by partial pulmonary vein banding. Development of chronic PH was confirmed hemodynamically, and animals were randomized to intratracheal administration of aerosolized AAV1 carrying the human SERCA2a gene (n = 10, AAV1.SERCA2a group) or saline (n = 10). Therapeutic efficacy was evaluated 2 months after gene delivery. Results Transduction efficacy after intratracheal delivery of AAV1 was confirmed by β-galactosidase detection in the distal pulmonary vasculature. Treatment with aerosolized AAV1.SERCA2a prevented disease progression as evaluated by mean pulmonary artery pressure, vascular resistance, and limited vascular remodeling quantified by histology. Therapeutic efficacy was supported further by the preservation of RV ejection fraction (p = 0.014) and improvement of the RV end-diastolic pressure-volume relationship in PH pigs treated with aerosolized AAV1.SERCA2a. Conclusions Airway-based delivery of AAV vectors to the pulmonary arteries was feasible, efficient, and safe in a clinically relevant chronic PH model. Vascular SERCA2a overexpression resulted in beneficial effects on pulmonary arterial remodeling, with attendant improvements in pulmonary hemodynamics and RV performance, and might offer therapeutic benefit by modifying fundamental pathophysiology in pulmonary vascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2032-2046
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number17
StatePublished - 3 May 2016


  • aerosol delivery
  • gene therapy
  • pig models
  • pulmonary vascular remodeling
  • right ventricular function


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