In patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, high flow in unobstructed lung regions may induce small-vessel damage responsible for persistent pulmonary hypertension after pulmonary thromboendarterectomy. In piglets, closure of an experimental aortopulmonary shunt reverses the flow-induced vascular lesions and diminishes the elevated levels of messenger RNA (mRNA) expression for endothelin-1 and endothelin receptor A (ETA). We wanted to study the effect of the ETA antagonist TBC 3711 on reversal of flow-induced pulmonary vascular lesions.
Twenty piglets were studied. In 15 piglets, pulmonary vasculopathy was induced by creating an aortopulmonary shunt. After 5 weeks of shunting, some animals were studied (n = 5); others underwent shunt closure for 1 week with (n = 5) or without (n = 5) TBC3711 treatment. Anti-ETA treatment started 1 week before and ended 1 week after the shunt closure. The controls were sham-operated animals (n = 5).
High blood flow led to medial hypertrophy of the distal pulmonary arteries (54.9% +/- 1.3% vs 35.3% +/- 0.9%; P < .0001) by stimulating smooth muscle cell proliferation (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) and increased the expression of endothelin-1, ETA or endothelin receptor type A or endothelin receptor A, angiopoietin 1, and Tie2 (real-time polymerase chain reaction). One week after shunt closure, gene expression levels were normal and smooth muscle cells showed increased apoptosis (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling) without proliferation. However, pulmonary artery wall thickness returned to control values only in the group given TBC3711 (33.2% +/- 8% with and 50.3% +/- 1.3% without; P < .05).
Anti-ETA therapy accelerated the reversal of flow-induced pulmonary arterial disease after flow correction. In patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension and severe distal pulmonary vasculopathy, anti-ETA agents may prove useful for preventing persistent pulmonary hypertension after pulmonary thromboendarterectomy.
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