Cathepsin S Inhibition Suppresses Experimental Systemic Lupus Erythematosus-Associated Pulmonary Arterial Remodeling

Tzung Hai Yen, Wan Jing Ho, Yung Hsin Yeh, Ying Ju Lai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review


Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) associated with pulmonary arterial hypnertension (PAH) receive targeted therapy for PAH to decrease pulmonary arterial systolic pressure and significantly prolong their survival. Cysteine cathepsin proteases play critical roles in the progression of cardiovascular disease. Inhibition of cathepsin S (Cat S) has been shown to improve SLE and lupus nephritis. However, the effect of Cat S inhibitors on SLE-associated PAH (SLE-PAH) remains unclear, and there is no animal model for translational research on SLE-PAH. We hypothesized that the inhibition of Cat S may affect PAH development and arterial remodeling associated with SLE. A female animal model of SLE-PAH, female MRL/lpr (Lupus), was used to evaluate the role of pulmonary arterial remodeling in SLE. The key finding of the research work is the establishment of an animal model of SLE associated with PAH in female MRL/lpr mice that is able to evaluate pulmonary arterial remodeling starting from the age of 11 weeks to 15 weeks. Cat S protein level was identified as a marker of experimental SLE. Pulmonary hypertension in female MRL/lpr (Lupus) mice was treated by administering the selective Cat S inhibitor Millipore-219393, which stimulated peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ) in the lungs to inhibit Cat S expression and pulmonary arterial remodeling. Studies provide an animal model of female MRL/lpr (Lupus) associated with PAH and a deeper understanding of the pathogenesis of SLE-PAH. The results may define the role of cathepsin S in preventing progressive and fatal SLE-PAH and provide approaches for therapeutic interventions in SLE-PAH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12316
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number20
StatePublished - 10 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • MRL/lpr
  • animal model
  • cathepsin S
  • lupus
  • pulmonary arterial hypertension


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