Obesity-related pulmonary arterial hypertension in rats correlates with increased circulating inflammatory cytokines and lipids and with oxidant damage in the arterial wall but not with hypoxia


Obesity is causally linked to a number of comorbidities, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal dysfunction, and cancer. Obesity has also been linked to pulmonary disorders, including pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). It was long believed that obesity-related PAH was the result of hypoventilation and hypoxia due to the increased mechanical load of excess body fat. However, in recent years it has been proposed that the metabolic and inflammatory disturbances of obesity may also play a role in the development of PAH. To determine whether PAH develops in obese rats in the absence of hypoxia, we assessed pulmonary hemodynamics and pulmonary artery (PA) structure in the diet-resistant/diet-induced obesity (DR/DIO) and Zucker lean/fatty rat models. We found that high-fat feeding (DR/DIO) or overfeeding (Zucker) elicited PA remodeling, neomuscularization of distal arterioles, and elevated PA pressure, accompanied by right ventricular (RV) hypertrophy. PA thickening and distal neomuscularization were also observed in DIO rats on a low-fat diet. No evidence of hypoventilation or chronic hypoxia was detected in either model, nor was there a correlation between blood glucose or insulin levels and PAH. However, circulating inflammatory cytokine levels were increased with high-fat feeding or calorie overload, and hyperlipidemia and oxidant damage in the PA wall correlated with PAH in the DR/DIO model. We conclude that hyperlipidemia and peripheral inflammation correlate with the development of PAH in obese subjects. Obesity-related inflammation may predispose to PAH even in the absence of hypoxia.

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Hypoxia/ Intermittent Hypoxia/ Hypoxia-Ischemia and Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury
Inflammatory and Immune Cells
Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes and Dyslipidemias, Glucose and Glycoproteins
Oxidative stress and Oxidants/Antioxidants and Free Radicals
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension


David C. Irwin, Chrystelle V. Garat, Joseph T. CrossnoJr., Paul S. MacLean, Timothy M. Sullivan, Paul F. Erickson, Matthew R. Jackman, Julie W. Harral, Jane E. B. Reusch, Dwight J. Klemm

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 4: No 4 cover image

December 2014

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 4: No 4

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