The importance of capillary density–stroke work mismatch for right ventricular adaptation to chronic pressure overload

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Mechanisms of right ventricular (RV) adaptation to chronic pressure overload are not well understood. We hypothesized that a lower capillary density (CD) to stroke work ratio would be associated with more fibrosis and RV maladaptive remodeling.


We induced RV chronic pressure overload over a 20-week period in 2 piglet models of pulmonary hypertension; that is, a shunt model (n = 5) and a chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension model (n = 5). We assessed hemodynamic parameters and RV remodeling as well as RV CD, fibrosis, and angiogenic factors expression.


Although RV was similarly hypertrophied in both models, maladapted RV remodeling with impaired systolic function was only seen in chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension group members who had lower CD (484 ± 99 vs 1213 ± 74 cap/mm2; P < .01), lower CD to stroke work ratio (0.29 ± 0.07 vs 0.82 ± 0.16; P = .02), higher myocardial fibrosis (15.4% ± 3.8% vs 8.0% ± 2.5%; P < .01), as well as a higher angiogenic and fibrosis factors expression.


The RV adaptive response to chronic pressure overload differs between 2 different piglet models of PH. Mismatch between angiogenesis and workload (CD to stroke work ratio) was associated with greater degree of myocardial fibrosis and RV dysfunction and could be a promising index of RV maladaptation. Further studies are needed to understand the underlying mechanisms.

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