Prostaglandins E1 and E2 are thought to be inhibitors of the growth of systemic vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC). However, their effect on the proliferation of SMC from the pulmonary artery (PA) has not been described and was the subject of this investigation. Cultures of bovine PA SMC were exposed to PGE1 and PGE2 under various conditions and their growth was assessed. PGE1 and PGE2 did not inhibit the growth of PA SMC in 10% fetal calf serum (FCS), but instead caused a dose dependent (10 ng - 1 μg/ml) increase in [3H]-thymidine incorporation when added to cultures containing 0.5% FCS; the highest doses resulted in 95% and 75% increases in [3H]-thymidine uptake at 24 hours with PGE1 and PGE2 respectively. This was accompanied by a modest increase in actual cell numbers (e.g., 20% with 1 μg/ml PGE1). Furthermore, PGE1 could mimic insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) by potentiating the stimulation of SMC growth by fibroblast growth factor, suggesting that PGE1 may act as a progression factor in the growth cycle of these cells. There was, however, no effect of PGE1 on the proliferation of bovine aortic SMC. We conclude that, contrary to most reported effects on systemic SMC, PGE1 and PGE2 do not inhibit the proliferation of PA SMC but rather stimulate it.
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