Pathological pulmonary vascular remodeling is induced by type V collagen in a model of scleroderma

Roberta Goncalves Marangoni*, Benjamin D. Korman, Edwin R. Parra, Ana Paula P. Velosa, Hermes V. Barbeiro, Vanessa Martins, Angela B.G. dos Santos, Francisco Soriano, Walcy R. Teodoro, Pedro Leme Silva, Warren Tourtellotte, Vera L. Capelozzi, John Varga, Natalino H. Yoshinari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The pulmonary vascular remodeling in systemic sclerosis (SSc) is poorly understood and animal models are lacking. Type V collagen (COLV) is elevated in SSc and is implicated in the pathogenesis, and immunization with human COLV induces SSc-like skin and lung changes in rabbits and mice. Here we tested the hypothesis that COLV immunization will induce pathological and functional changes that phenocopy SSc-associated pulmonary vascular disease. Methods: Pulmonary vascular changes in rabbits immunized with human COLV were extensively characterized by a combination of histology, electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry. Physiologic changes induced by COLV in explanted pulmonary artery rings were evaluated. The pattern of histopathologic alterations and gene expression induced in immunized rabbits were compared to those in SSc patients. Results: COLV immunization was accompanied by striking pulmonary vascular abnormalities, characterized by reduced capillary density, perivascular inflammation, endothelial cell injury and collagen accumulation, that closely phenocopy changes seen in SSc patients. Moreover, pulmonary arteries from immunized rabbits showed impaired ex vivo vascular relaxation. Expression of COL5A2 was significantly increased in the lungs from immunized rabbits (p = 0.02), as well as in patients with SSc (P = 0.02). Conclusion: COLV immunity in rabbits is associated with marked vascular remodeling in the lung that phenocopies early-stage human SSc-associated pulmonary vascular disease. COLV immunization therefore represents a novel approach to model SSc pulmonary vascular pathology. Moreover, our findings suggest that COLV might represent a novel pathogenic autoantigen in SSc and future studies with the present model should be developed for possible association with PAH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number153382
JournalPathology Research and Practice
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Animal model
  • Collagen V
  • Endothelium
  • Vascular disease
  • scleroderma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology


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