Functional and molecular determinants of right ventricular response to severe pulmonary hypertension in a large animal model

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2023 Jun 1;324(6):H804-H820. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00614.2022. Epub 2023 Mar 24.


Right ventricular (RV) failure is the major determinant of outcome in pulmonary hypertension (PH). Calves exposed to 2-wk hypoxia develop severe PH and unlike rodents, hypoxia-induced PH in this species can lead to right heart failure. We, therefore, sought to examine the molecular and structural changes in the RV in calves with hypoxia-induced PH, hypothesizing that we could identify mechanisms underlying compensated physiological function in the face of developing severe PH. Calves were exposed to 14 days of environmental hypoxia (equivalent to 4,570 m/15,000 ft elevation, n = 29) or ambient normoxia (1,525 m/5,000 ft, n = 25). Cardiopulmonary function was evaluated by right heart catheterization and pressure volume loops. Molecular and cellular determinants of RV remodeling were analyzed by cDNA microarrays, RealTime PCR, proteomics, and immunochemistry. Hypoxic exposure induced robust PH, with increased RV contractile performance and preserved cardiac output, yet evidence of dysregulated RV-pulmonary artery mechanical coupling as seen in advanced disease. Analysis of gene expression revealed cellular processes associated with structural remodeling, cell signaling, and survival. We further identified specific clusters of gene expression associated with 1) hypertrophic gene expression and prosurvival mechanotransduction through YAP-TAZ signaling, 2) extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, 3) inflammatory cell activation, and 4) angiogenesis. A potential transcriptomic signature of cardiac fibroblasts in RV remodeling was detected, enriched in functions related to cell movement, tissue differentiation, and angiogenesis. Proteomic and immunohistochemical analysis confirmed RV myocyte hypertrophy, together with localization of ECM remodeling, inflammatory cell activation, and endothelial cell proliferation within the RV interstitium. In conclusion, hypoxia and hemodynamic load initiate coordinated processes of protective and compensatory RV remodeling to withstand the progression of PH.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Using a large animal model and employing a comprehensive approach integrating hemodynamic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and immunohistochemical analyses, we examined the early (2 wk) effects of severe PH on the RV. We observed that RV remodeling during PH progression represents a continuum of transcriptionally driven processes whereby cardiac myocytes, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and proremodeling macrophages act to coordinately maintain physiological homeostasis and protect myocyte survival during chronic, severe, and progressive pressure overload.

Keywords: adaptation; pulmonary hypertension; right ventricle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Heart Failure*
  • Heart Ventricles
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary* / metabolism
  • Hypertrophy, Right Ventricular / genetics
  • Hypertrophy, Right Ventricular / metabolism
  • Hypoxia
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Proteomics
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right* / complications
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right* / genetics
  • Ventricular Function, Right
  • Ventricular Remodeling

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.22185838