Three-dimensional micro computed tomography analysis of the lung vasculature and differential adipose proteomics in the Sugen/hypoxia rat model of pulmonary arterial hypertension

PVRI Member Authors: Raymond Benza


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease characterized by significant vascular remodeling. The obesity epidemic has produced great interest in the relationship between small visceral adipose tissue depots producing localized inflammatory conditions, which may link metabolism, innate immunity, and vascular remodeling. This study used novel micro computed tomography (microCT) three-dimensional modeling to investigate the degree of remodeling of the lung vasculature and differential proteomics to determine small visceral adipose dysfunction in rats with severe PAH. Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to a subcutaneous injection of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor blocker (Sugen 5416) with subsequent hypoxia exposure for 3 weeks (SU/hyp). At 12 weeks after hypoxia, microCT analysis showed a decrease in the ratio of vascular to total tissue volume within the SU/hyp group (mean ± standard deviation: 0.27 ± 0.066; P = 0.02) with increased vascular separation (0.37 ± 0.062 mm; P = 0.02) when compared with the control (0.34 ± 0.084 and 0.30 ± 0.072 mm). Differential proteomics detected an up-regulation of complement protein 3 (C3; SU/hyp: control ratio = 2.86) and the adipose tissue–specific fatty acid binding protein-4 (FABP4, 2.66) in the heart adipose of the SU/hyp. Significant remodeling of the lung vasculature validates the efficacy of the SU/hyp rat for modeling human PAH. The upregulation of C3 and FABP4 within the heart adipose implicates small visceral adipose dysfunction. C3 has been associated with vascular stiffness, and FABP4 suppresses peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor, which is a major regulator of adipose function and known to be downregulated in PAH. These findings reveal that small visceral adipose tissue within the SU/hyp model provides mechanistic links for vascular remodeling and adipose dysfunction in the pathophysiology of PAH.

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Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension


Kelly J. Shields, Kostas Verdelis, Michael J. Passineau, Erin M. Faight, Lee Zourelias, Changgong Wu, Rong Chong, Raymond L. Benza

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 6: No 4 cover image

December 2016

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 6: No 4

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