Optimal right ventricular (RV) function in pulmonary hypertension (PH) requires structural and functional coupling between the RV cardiomyocyte and its adjacent capillary network. Prior investigations have indicated that RV vascular rarefaction occurs in PH, which could contribute to RV failure by reduced delivery of oxygen or other metabolic substrates. However, it has not been determined if rarefaction results from relative underproliferation in the setting of tissue hypertrophy or from actual loss of vessels. It is also unknown if rarefaction results in inadequate substrate delivery to the RV tissue. In the present study, PH was induced in rats by SU5416-hypoxia-normoxia exposure. The vasculature in the RV free wall was assessed using stereology. Steady-state metabolomics of the RV tissue was performed by mass spectrometry. Complementary studies were performed in hypoxia-exposed mice and rats. Rats with severe PH had evidence of RV failure by decreased cardiac output and systemic hypotension. By stereology, there was significant RV hypertrophy and increased total vascular length in the RV free wall in close proportion, with evidence of vessel proliferation but no evidence of endothelial cell apoptosis. There was a modest increase in the radius of tissue served per vessel, with decreased arterial delivery of metabolic substrates. Metabolomics revealed major metabolic alterations and metabolic reprogramming; however, metabolic substrate delivery was functionally preserved, without evidence of either tissue hypoxia or depletion of key metabolic substrates. Hypoxia-treated rats and mice had similar but milder alterations. There is significant homeostatic vascular adaptation in the right ventricle of rodents with PH.
Keywords: angiogenesis; metabolism; pulmonary hypertension; right ventricle.