Smooth muscle role on pulmonary arterial function during acute pulmonary hypertension in sheep

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We determined the wall mechanical response of the pulmonary artery (PA) to acute pulmonary hypertension induced pharmacologically and by an occlusion maneuver, to study the vascular response of the local segment and its influence in the whole pulmonary circulation.


Pulmonary pressure and diameter were measured in six anaesthetized sheep under steady-state conditions. Transient hypertension in the PA was induced by phenylephrine (PHE) and a high pressure (HP) mechanical occlusion aimed at producing the same pulse and mean pressure responses. A viscoelastic arterial wall model was applied and the elastic (Epd) and viscous (μ) indexes were obtained. The μ/Epd ratio was adopted to quantify the damping performance of the arterial wall segment. The diastolic time constant was used as an indicator of the whole pulmonary buffering function. The systemic pressure was always measured.


The pulmonary mean, systolic and pulse pressure increases (P < 0.05) were similar during PHE and HP, with respect to control. PHE also induced a systemic pressure rise (P < 0.05). The Epd elastic index increased during HP (P < 0.05) and tended to increase during PHE with respect to control. The viscous index μ only increased with PHE (P < 0.05) with respect to control and occlusion. The diastolic time constant increased with PHE with respect to control (P < 0.05).


A pressure rise in the PA, induced by an occlusion maneuver, increased local stiffness. Similar pressure rises with smooth muscle activation (PHE), produced both a stiffness and viscous index increase. In PHE resistance increases more than compliance decreases so that the global net effect is a longer decay time. Smooth-muscle activation enhances the local damping effect (μ/Epd), concomitant with the buffering function improvement.

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