Animal models of right heart failure

Cardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2020 Oct;10(5):1561-1579. doi: 10.21037/cdt-20-400.


Right heart failure may be the ultimate cause of death in patients with acute or chronic pulmonary hypertension (PH). As PH is often secondary to other cardiovascular diseases, the treatment goal is to target the underlying disease. We do however know, that right heart failure is an independent risk factor, and therefore, treatments that improve right heart function may improve morbidity and mortality in patients with PH. There are no therapies that directly target and support the failing right heart and translation from therapies that improve left heart failure have been unsuccessful, with the exception of mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists. To understand the underlying pathophysiology of right heart failure and to aid in the development of new treatments we need solid animal models that mimic the pathophysiology of human disease. There are several available animal models of acute and chronic PH. They range from flow induced to pressure overload induced right heart failure and have been introduced in both small and large animals. When initiating new pre-clinical or basic research studies it is key to choose the right animal model to ensure successful translation to the clinical setting. Selecting the right animal model for the right study is hence important, but may be difficult due to the plethora of different models and local availability. In this review we provide an overview of the available animal models of acute and chronic right heart failure and discuss the strengths and limitations of the different models.

Keywords: Pulmonary hypertension (PH); animal models; congenital heart defects; pulmonary embolism (PE); pulmonary heart disease.

Publication types

  • Review