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Chronic intrauterine pulmonary hypertension increases main pulmonary artery stiffness and adventitial remodeling in fetal sheep.

American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology (2014-10-19)
R Blair Dodson, Matthew R Morgan, Csaba Galambos, Kendall S Hunter, Steven H Abman
ABSTRACT

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is a clinical syndrome that is characterized by high pulmonary vascular resistance due to changes in lung vascular growth, structure, and tone. PPHN has been primarily considered as a disease of the small pulmonary arteries (PA), but proximal vascular stiffness has been shown to be an important predictor of morbidity and mortality in other diseases associated with pulmonary hypertension (PH). The objective of this study is to characterize main PA (MPA) stiffness in experimental PPHN and to determine the relationship of altered biomechanics of the MPA with changes in extracellular matrix (ECM) content and orientation of collagen and elastin fibers. MPAs were isolated from control and PPHN fetal sheep model and were tested by planar biaxial testing to measure stiffness in circumferential and axial vessel orientations. Test specimens were fixed for histological assessments of the vascular wall ECM constituents collagen and elastin. MPAs from PPHN sheep had increased mechanical stiffness (P < 0.05) and altered ECM remodeling compared with control MPA. A constitutive mathematical model and histology demonstrated that PPHN vessels have a smaller contribution of elastin and a greater role for collagen fiber engagement compared with the control arteries. We conclude that exposure to chronic hemodynamic stress in late-gestation fetal sheep increases proximal PA stiffness and alters ECM remodeling. We speculate that proximal PA stiffness further contributes to increased right ventricular impedance in experimental PPHN, which contributes to abnormal transition of the pulmonary circulation at birth.

MATERIALS
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