Research ArticlesPULMONARY EDEMA

An Orally Active TRPV4 Channel Blocker Prevents and Resolves Pulmonary Edema Induced by Heart Failure

Science Translational Medicine  07 Nov 2012:
Vol. 4, Issue 159, pp. 159ra148
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004276

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Ion Channel Blockade Prevents Pulmonary Edema

Heart failure affects not only the heart and vessels but also the lungs. As blood pressure builds up in the lung’s vessels, fluid leaks into the lungs. Treatment options are limited for these patients, mostly because the mechanism underlying pulmonary edema is unclear. Here, Thorneloe and colleagues implicate the activation of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) ion channel in the onset of edema during heart failure and show that a small-molecule drug can prevent such leakage.

Activation of the ion channel TRPV4 results in pulmonary edema in animal lungs. The authors first confirmed that TRPV4 was expressed in normal human lungs and then demonstrated that it was increased in lung tissue from patients with a history of congestive heart failure. Using a small-molecule screen, Thorneloe et al. discovered GSK2193874. In human cells in vitro and mouse lungs ex vivo, the small molecule effectively blocked TRPV4 channels to maintain endothelial (vessel) layer integrity. A related study by Huh et al. (this issue) shows that the drug indeed prevents vascular leakage of human cell cultures in vitro. The GSK2193874 analog GSK2263095 displayed similar activity in canine lungs ex vivo. In vivo in rat models of heart failure, the authors found that the drug was effective in both preventing and reversing pulmonary edema. The molecule only protected against lung permeability at high (pathological) pulmonary venous pressure.

Thorneloe and colleagues showed that GSK2193874 blocked TRPV4 activity across species, including in human cells, without adversely affecting heart rate or arterial pressure. This suggests that TRPV4 blockers might be used therapeutically to treat patients with heart failure–induced pulmonary edema.