Right ventricular (RV) failure is the major cause of death among patients with pulmonary hypertension. However, differences between the RV and left ventricle (LV) of the adult heart have not been defined, despite myocytes from these two ventricles originate from different progenitor cells. The lack of such knowledge interferes with developing therapeutic strategies to protect the RV. The goal of this study was to identify possible differences between stress responses in the RV and LV free walls of adult rats. We found that levels of angiogenesis and autophagy/mitophagy proteins are higher in the LV than in the RV. Thus, the LV may be more resistant to stress-induced damage. To test this, isolated rat hearts were subjected to biventricular working heart perfusion and ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury. However, I/R was found to cause apoptosis in both LV and RV to a similar extent. One mechanism of cardiac apoptosis involves downregulation of GATA4 transcription factor that controls gene transcription of anti-apoptotic Bcl-xL. Interestingly, only in the RV, I/R caused downregulation of GATA4 and Bcl-xL, suggesting that mechanisms of apoptosis may be different between the two ventricles. Levels of tropomyosin and troponin T were also found to be decreased in response to I/R only in the RV, but not in the LV. Downregulation of the GATA4/Bcl-xL axis and the reduction of tropomyosin and troponin T are RV-specific events that occur in response to stress. This information may be useful for designing RV-specific therapeutic strategies to treat RV failure in pulmonary hypertension patients.
Keywords: Ischemia/reperfusion; Left ventricle; Pulmonary hypertension; Right heart failure; Right ventricle.