Rodent models of pulmonary hypertension: harmonisation with the world health organisation's categorisation of human PH

Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2011 Aug;(172):15-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2011.02710.x.


The WHO classification of pulmonary hypertension (PH) recognises five distinct groups, all sharing a mean, resting, pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) > 25 mmHg. The aetiology of PH varies by group (1-pulmonary vascular disease, 2-high left heart filling pressures, 3-hypoxia, 4-unresolved pulmonary embolism and 5-miscellaneous). Inclusion in a group reflects shared histological, haemodynamic and pathophysiological features and has therapeutic implications. Advantages of using rodent models to understand the pathophysiology of human PH and to test experimental therapies include the economy, safety and mechanistic certainty they provide. As rodent models are meant to reflect human PH, they should be categorised by a parallel PH classification and limitations in achieving this ideal recognised. Challenges with rodent models include: accurate phenotypic characterisation (haemodynamics, histology and imaging), species and strain variations in the natural history of PH, and poor fidelity to the relevant human PH group. Rat models of group 1 PH include: monocrotaline (± pneumonectomy), chronic hypoxia + SU-5416 (a VEGF receptor inhibitor) and the fawn-hooded rat (FHR). Mouse models of group 1 PH include: transgenic mice overexpressing the serotonin transporter or dominant-negative mutants of bone morphogenetic protein receptor-2. Group 1 PH is also created by infecting S100A4/Mts1 mice with γ-herpesvirus. The histological features of group 1 PH, but not PH itself, are induced by exposure to Schistosoma mansoni or Stachybotrys chartarum. Group 3 PH is modelled by exposure of rats or mice to chronic hypoxia. Rodent models of groups 2, 4 and 5 PH are needed. Comprehensive haemodynamic, histological and molecular phenotyping, coupled with categorisation into WHO PH groups, enhances the utility of rodent models.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Cause of Death*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Pneumonectomy / methods
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment
  • Rodentia
  • Species Specificity
  • Survival Analysis
  • World Health Organization


  • Antihypertensive Agents