Translational research in pulmorany vascular disease

REF: PD 18
Principle investigator:
Joan Albert Barberà
Contact details:



Research framework

Our research group is devoted to investigate the underlying mechanisms of pulmonary vascular disorders in order to identify biological markers and therapeutic targets that could be translated to clinical practice. We are particularly focused on pulmonary vascular changes induced by cigarette smoke exposure and the potential role of progenitor cells in the vascular remodelling process.

We conduct experimental studies on cellular and animal models using common techniques (viral transfections, organ bath, tissue bioreactor, hypoxic chambers), and studies on human subjects and biologic samples using real-time PCR, low density microarrays and flow cytometry. Physicians in the group run a clinic on pulmonary hypertension and conduct physiological studies and clinical trials in patients with pulmonary hypertension. The group has a long tradition on the study of lung tissue samples obtained from surgically resected specimens.

Recent relevant publications:

  • Effects of cigarette smoke and hypoxia on pulmonary circulation in the guinea pig. Eur Respir J. 2011;38:617-27.
  • Similar gene expression profiles in smokers and patients with moderate COPD. Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2011;24:32-41.
  • Endothelial progenitor cells undergo an endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition-like process mediated by TGFbetaRI. Cardiovasc Res. 2010;88:502-11.
  • Effects of cigarette smoke on endothelial function of pulmonary arteries in the guinea pig. Respir Res. 2009;10:76.
  • Cigarette smoking exacerbates nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in obese rats. Hepatology. 2010;51:1567-76.
  • Cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress: A role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease skeletal muscle dysfunction. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;182:477-88.
  • Hemodynamic and gas exchange effects of sildenafil in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary hypertension. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010;181:270-8.
  • Effects of inhaled nitric oxide at rest and during exercise in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. J Appl Physiol. 2011;110:638-45.
  • Acute and long-term effects of inhaled iloprost in portopulmonary hypertension. Liver Transpl. 2010;16:348-56.

Our group has made significant contributions in the field of pulmonary circulation providing evidence that cigarette smoke products may underlie the development of pulmonary hypertension in respiratory diseases, and the demonstration of the potential detrimental effect on pulmonary gas exchange of some endothelium-derived vasodilating agents.

The most attractive characteristic of our research group is its translational nature, where clinical and experimental researchers interact to face clinically relevant questions in the field of pulmonary circulation.


Pulmonary circulation; pulmonary hypertension; endothelium; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; endothelial progenitor cells; cigarette smoking.

Main Challenges

The main challenges of the research team are:

  • Determine the role of bone marrow-derived vascular progenitor cells in the remodelling process of pulmonary vessels
  • Understand the mechanisms of pulmonary vascular damage induced by cigarette smoking and their potential therapeutic modulation
  • Identify markers of endothelial cell activity and function that could be useful for patient characterization and treatment monitoring
  • Establish the role of microRNAs as epigenetic modulators of pulmonary vascular remodelling

The applicant should:

  • Contribute to develop the research lines of the group and achieve the projected milestones
  • Provide added value to current research on the basis of solid background and expertise
  • Expand the research activity of the group by implementing new techniques and suggesting new ideas
  • Develop a research project in the field of vascular research based on the expertise of the postdoctoral researcher that contributes to expand the current knowledge of the group

Team strategic objective in IDIBAPS

The main strategic objective of the team is to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of pulmonary circulatory disorders, in particular those associated with respiratory diseases, in order to unravel biological targets with potential applicability in the diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary vascular diseases. In addition, we seek to establish the complex interactions among pulmonary vascular function and gas exchange, in particular those derived from therapeutic interventions.

(Read eligibility criteria)