Surgical and catheter-based interventions on pulmonary veins are associated with pulmonary vein stenosis (PVS), which can progress diffusely through the “upstream” pulmonary veins. The mechanism has been rarely studied. We used a porcine model of PVS to assess disease progression with emphasis on the potential role of endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT).Methods:
Neonatal piglets underwent bilateral pulmonary vein banding (banded, n = 6) or sham operations (sham, n = 6). Additional piglets underwent identical banding and stent implantation in a single-banded pulmonary vein 3 weeks postbanding (stented, n = 6). At 7 weeks postbanding, hemodynamics and upstream PV pathology were assessed.Results:
Banded piglets developed pulmonary hypertension. The upstream pulmonary veins exhibited intimal thickening associated with features of EndMT, including increased transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 and Smad expression, loss of endothelial and gain of mesenchymal marker expression, and coexpression of endothelial and mesenchymal markers in banded pulmonary vein intimal cells. These immunopathologic changes and a prominent myofibroblast phenotype in the remodeled pulmonary veins were consistently identified in specimens from patients with PVS, in vitro TGF-β1-stimulated cells isolated from piglet and human pulmonary veins, and human umbilical vein endothelial cells. After stent implantation, decompression of a pulmonary vein was associated with reappearance of endothelial marker expression, suggesting the potential for plasticity in the observed pathologic changes, followed by rapid in-stent restenosis.Conclusions:
Neonatal pulmonary vein banding in piglets recapitulates critical aspects of clinical PVS and highlights a pathologic profile consistent with EndMT, supporting the rationale for evaluating therapeutic strategies designed to exploit reversibility of upstream pulmonary vein pathology.