TWIK-2 Channel Deficiency Leads to Pulmonary Hypertension Through a Rho-Kinase–Mediated Process
TWIK-2 (KCNK6) is a member of the 2-pore domain (K2P) family of potassium channels, which are highly expressed in the vascular system. We tested the hypothesis that TWIK-2 deficiency leads to pulmonary hypertension. TWIK-2 knockout mice and their wildtype littermates at 8 weeks of age had similar mean right ventricular systolic pressures (24±3 and 21±3 mm Hg, respectively.) Significantly, by 20 weeks of age, the mean right ventricular systolic pressures in TWIK-2 knockout mice increased to 35±3 mm Hg (P≤0.036), whereas mean right ventricular systolic pressures in wildtype littermates remained at 22±3 mm Hg. Elevated mean right ventricular systolic pressures in the TWIK-2 knockout mice was accompanied by pulmonary vascular remodeling as determined by a 25% increase in the cross-sectional area of the vessels occupied by the vessel wall. Additionally, secondary branches of the pulmonary artery from 20-week-old TWIK-2 knockout mice showed an enhanced contractile response to U46619 (10–6 moles/L), a thromboxane A2 mimetic, which was completely abolished with the Rho-kinase inhibitor, Y27632 (10–6 and 10–5 moles/L). Treatment of TWIK-2 knockout mice with the Rho-kinase inhibitor, fasudil, in the drinking water for 12 weeks, abolished the development of pulmonary hypertension and attenuated the vessel remodeling. We concluded that mice deficient in the TWIK-2 channel develop pulmonary hypertension between 8 and 20 weeks of age through a mechanism involving Rho-kinase. Our results suggest that downregulation of TWIK-2 in the pulmonary vasculature may be an underlying mechanism in the development of pulmonary hypertension.
- Received February 20, 2014.
- Revision received April 15, 2014.
- Accepted September 3, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.