Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim and Giessen University have discovered that transcription factor FoxO1 regulates the division of cells and plays a key role in the development of pulmonary hypertension.
The researchers were able to cure pulmonary hypertension, which is characterised by uncontrolled division of cells in the blood vessel walls that results in the walls getting increasingly thick, in rats by activating FoxO1 and the study findings could be used to develop a new treatment for this hitherto incurable disease.
The disease is characterised by progressive narrowing of the pulmonary arteries as the reduced diameter of the vessels leads to poor perfusion, for which the right ventricle tries to compensate by increasing its pumping action.
This, in turn, increases the blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and in the course of time, chronic overload damages the heart, resulting in cardiac insufficiency, also known as congestive heart failure.
Several forms of treatment developed in recent years aim mainly to alleviate the symptoms and relieve strain on the heart and pulmonary hypertension, however, is still incurable, not least of all due to insufficient knowledge of what causes the disease at the molecular level.
In transcription factor FoxO1 they have identified a key molecule that plays a decisive role in the regulation of cell division in vascular wall cells and the lifespan of the cells.