Increased right ventricular output and central pulmonary reservoir function support rise in pulmonary blood flow during adenosine infusion in the ovine fetus

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012 Jun 15;302(12):R1450-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00653.2011. Epub 2012 Apr 18.


Although adenosine markedly increases fetal pulmonary blood flow, the specific changes in pulmonary trunk (PT), ductus arteriosus (DA), and conduit pulmonary artery (PA) flow interactions that support this increased flow are unknown. To address this issue, seven anesthetized late-gestation fetal sheep were instrumented with PT, DA, and left PA micromanometer catheters and transit-time flow probes. Blood flow profile and wave intensity analyses were performed at baseline and after adenosine infusion to increase PA flow approximately fivefold. With adenosine infusion, DA mean and phasic flows were unchanged, but increases in mean PT (500 ± 256 ml/min, P = 0.002) and the combined left and right PA flow (479 ± 181 ml/min, P < 0.001) were similar (P > 0.7) and related to a larger flow-increasing forward-running compression wave arising from right ventricular (RV) impulsive contraction. Moreover, while the increased PT flow was confined to systole, the rise in PA flow spanned systole (316 ml/min) and diastole (163 ml/min). This elevated PA diastolic flow was accompanied by a 170% greater discharge from a PT and main PA reservoir filled in systole (P < 0.001), but loss of retrograde blood discharge from a conduit PA reservoir that was evident at baseline. These data suggest that 1) an increase in fetal pulmonary blood flow produced by adenosine infusion is primarily supported by a higher PT blood flow (i.e., RV output); 2) about two-thirds of this increased RV output passes into the pulmonary circulation during systole; and 3) the remainder is transiently stored in a central PT and main PA systolic reservoir, from where it discharges into the lungs in diastole.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fetus / blood supply
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Heart Ventricles / drug effects*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Lung / blood supply*
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiology
  • Pulmonary Artery / drug effects*
  • Pulmonary Artery / physiology
  • Pulmonary Circulation / drug effects
  • Pulmonary Circulation / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects*
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Sheep
  • Ventricular Function, Right / drug effects*


  • Adenosine