Upregulation of serotonin-receptor-2a and serotonin transporter expression in the pulmonary vasculature of nitrofen-induced congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Published:February 03, 2014DOI:



      Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) is attributed to severe pulmonary hypoplasia and pulmonary hypertension (PH). PH is characterized by structural changes resulting in vascular remodeling. Serotonin, a potent vasoconstrictor, plays a central role in the development of PH. It exerts its constricting effects on the vessels via Serotonin receptor 2A (5-HT2A) and induces pulmonary smooth muscle cell proliferation via the serotonin transporter (5-HTT). This study was designed to investigate expressions of 5-HT2A and 5-HTT in the pulmonary vasculature of rats with nitrofen-induced CDH.


      Rats were exposed to nitrofen or vehicle on D9. Fetuses were sacrificed on D21 and divided into nitrofen and control group (n = 32). Pulmonary RNA was extracted and mRNA level of 5HT2A was determined by qRT-PCR. Protein expression of 5HT2A and 5-HTT was investigated by western blotting. Confocal immunofluorescence double-staining for 5-HT2A, 5-HTT, and alpha smooth muscle actin were performed.


      Pulmonary 5-HT2A gene expression levels were significantly increased in nitrofen-induced CDH compared to controls. Western blotting and confocal microscopy confirmed increased pulmonary protein expression in CDH lungs compared to controls.


      Increased gene and protein expression of 5HT2A and 5-HTT in the pulmonary vasculature of nitrofen-induced CDH lungs suggest that 5HT2A and 5-HTT are important mediators of PH in nitrofen-induced CDH.

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