Primary pulmonary hypertension is a fatal disease causing progressive right heart failure within 3 years after diagnosis. We describe a new concept for treatment of the disease using vasoactive intestinal peptide, a neuropeptide primarily functioning as a neurotransmitter that acts as a potent systemic and pulmonary vasodilator. Our rationale is based on the finding of a deficiency of the peptide in serum and lung tissue of patients with primary pulmonary hypertension, as evidenced by radioimmunoassay and immunohistochemistry. The relevance of this finding is underlined by an upregulation of corresponding receptor sites as shown by Northern blot analysis, Western blot analysis, and immunological techniques. Consequently, the substitution with the hormone results in substantial improvement of hemodynamic and prognostic parameters of the disease without side effects. It decreased the mean pulmonary artery pressure in our eight study patients, increased cardiac output, and mixed venous oxygen saturation. Our data provide enough proof for further investigation of vasoactive intestinal peptide and its role in primary pulmonary hypertension.
Ventzislav Petkov, Wilhelm Mosgoeller, Rolf Ziesche, Markus Raderer, Leopold Stiebellehner, Karin Vonbank, Georg-Christian Funk, Gerhard Hamilton, Clemens Novotny, Bernhard Burian, Lutz-Henning Block