Endothelin-1, vascular endothelial growth factor and systolic pulmonary artery pressure in patients with Chuvash polycythemia

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Background and Objectives. Endothelin-1 has been associated with development of hypoxia-related pulmonary hypertension and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) with protection from this complication. In Chuvash polycythemia, homozygous germline von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) 598C→T leads to up-regulation during normoxia of hypoxia inducible factor-1α and several hypoxia-controlled genes including erythropoietin and VEGF. We postulated that endothelin-1 and pulmonary artery pressure may be elevated in Chuvash polycythemia. Design and Methods. Systolic pulmonary artery blood pressure was estimated by Doppler echocardiography and plasma concentrations of endothelin-1, VEGF and erythropoietin were determined in 14 patients with Chuvash polycythemia and 14 controls. Results. Plasma endothelin-1 (p=0.010), VEGF (p=0.022) and erythropoietin (p<0.0005) concentrations and Doppler-estimated systolic pulmonary artery pressures (p<0.0005) were higher in the patients while systolic systemic blood pressures were lower (P=0.001). Five (36%) patients and no controls had mild pulmonary hypertension defined as systolic pulmonary artery pressure ≥35 mmHg. Among the patients with Chuvash polycythemia, the trends of association of estimated pulmonary artery pressure with plasma concentrations of endothelin-1 (R = +0.236), VEGF (R = -0.389) and erythropoietin (R = +0.220) were not statistically significant. Interpretations and Conclusions. Estimated systolic pulmonary artery pressure and plasma concentrations of endothelin-1 and VEGF are increased in patients with Chuvash polycythemia patients. The lack of significant associations of estimated systolic pulmonary artery pressure with plasma endothelin-1 and VEGF levels could conceivably be due to the small sample size. Further studies are indicated, especially in view of the reported efficacy of endothelin-1 receptor blockers in treating hypoxia-associated pulmonary hypertension. ©2006 Ferrata Storti Foundation.

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