cAMP-mediated vascular protection in an orthotopic rat lung transplant model: Insights into the mechanism of action of prostaglandin E1 to improve lung preservation

Yoshifumi Naka, Dilip K. Roy, Hui Liao, Nepal C. Chowdhury, Robert E. Michler, Mehmet C. Oz, David J. Pinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) is often added to the donor pulmonary flush solution to enhance clinical lung preservation for transplantation. Although PGE1 is thought to act as a pulmonary vasodilator during the harvest period, the precise mechanism(s) of action whereby PGE1 enhances lung preservation is unknown. Because cAMP levels decline in endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells exposed to hypoxia, we hypothesized that a PGE1-mediated increase in cAMP levels within the preserved lungs might improve pulmonary vascular homeostasis following lung transplantation. Rat lungs demonstrated a time-dependent decline in cAMP levels during hypothermic storage, with cAMP levels significantly increased by PGE1 supplementation (≃2-fold by 6 hours, P<.0005). To test whether augmenting cAMP levels may enhance lung preservation, experiments were performed using an orthotopic rat left lung transplant model. Compared with controls, supplementing the preservation solution with the membrane-permeable cAMP analogue dibutyryl-cAMP resulted in dose-dependent preservation enhancement, marked by reduced pulmonary vascular resistance (6.0-fold, P<.01), improved arterial oxygenation (3.0-fold, P<.01), reduced graft neutrophil infiltration (1.5-fold, P<.05), and improved recipient survival (7.0 fold, P<.005). Similar preservation enhancement was observed with another cAMP analogue (8-bromo-cAMP) or the phosphodiesterase inhibitor indolidan. Stimulating the cAMP second messenger system by PGE1 supplementation resulted in marked hemodynamic benefits and improved recipient survival, in parallel with reduced graft neutrophil infiltration, vascular permeability, and platelet deposition. These beneficial effects of PGE1 were abrogated by simultaneous administration of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase antagonist Rp-cAMPS. Although an arterial vasodilator (minoxidil) resulted in significant pulmonary vasodilation during harvest, it lacked other nonvasodilating effects of PGE1 and resulted in poor preservation. These data show that harvest vasodilation by itself is insufficient to enhance lung preservation and that PGE1 enhances lung preservation by stimulating the cAMP-dependent protein kinase and promoting non-vasodilatory mechanisms of pulmonary protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-783
Number of pages11
JournalCirculation research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • blood vessels
  • cAMP
  • lung transplantation
  • prostaglandin E
  • protein kinase A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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