Functional adaptation and remodeling of pulmonary artery in flow-induced pulmonary hypertension

Chen Fuh Lam, Timothy E. Peterson, Anthony J. Croatt, Karl A. Nath, Zvonimir S. Katusic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Patients with left-to-right shunt congenital heart disease may develop pulmonary hypertension. Perioperative mortality of these patients is high due to abnormal vasoreactivity of the pulmonary artery (PA). We studied the changes in the PA induced by high pulmonary blood flow in rats with aortocaval fistula. Eight weeks after surgery, morphological changes of the PA were studied and vasomotor function was assessed by isometric force recording. Expression of endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase (eNOS), VEGF, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) proteins and levels of cGMP in the PA were analyzed. Rats with high pulmonary blood flow developed pulmonary hypertension, medial thickening, and increasing of internal elastic lamina and basement membrane in the PA. When compared with sham-operated animals, rats with fistula had significantly increased contractions in the PA, whereas relaxations to acetylcholine and NO donor were reduced. Concentrations of cGMP were reduced in the PA of rats with pulmonary hypertension (18.4 ± 3.3 vs. 9.4 ± 1.7 pmol/mg protein; P = 0.04). The altered vasomotor function was normalized by treatment with indomethacin. The PA of rats with fistula expressed higher levels of eNOS, phosphorylated eNOS, and COX-2. Sustained high PA blood flow in rats causes pulmonary hypertension that is morphologically and functionally identical with patients with flow-induced pulmonary hypertension. Abnormal vasomotor function of the PA in these animals appears to be mediated by reduced availability and the biological effect of endogenous NO and the high production of vasoconstrictor prostanoids. Increased eNOS and phosphorylated eNOS are most likely the adaptive changes in response to an increase in PA pressure secondary to high blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2334-H2341
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6 58-6
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Cyclooxygenase-2
  • Endothelial nitric oxide synthase
  • Endothelium
  • Guanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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