Vascular Repair and Regeneration as a Therapeutic Target for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
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The last decade has seen substantial changes in our understanding of the pathobiology of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a severe and devastating disease without curative treatment. It is now accepted that injury to the endothelial cells of the pulmonary arteries is central for the subsequent development of lumen-obliterative lung vascular lesions. A variety of circulating and lung-resident progenitor and stem cells likely contribute to vascular integrity, and evidence for the presence of cells expressing stem and progenitor cell markers is found inside and in the immediate vicinity of pulmonary vascular lesions in PAH. The currently available vasodilator therapies mainly target enhanced vasoconstriction in the lung circulation and help to maintain or improve right ventricular function, but do not treat pulmonary vascular remodeling, the underlying cause of the disease. Vascular gene therapy and cell therapy with progenitor and stem cells is a progressing field in the context of the development of novel treatment options for PAH, but the majority of the studies are currently performed at the level of preclinical studies in animal models. The current review provides an overview of the current knowledge on cell- and gene therapy-based approaches for vascular repair and regeneration in PAH.
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