Improved pulmonary vascular reactivity and decreased hypertrophic remodeling during nonhypercapnic acidosis in experimental pulmonary hypertension.
ABSTRACT Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is characterized by pulmonary arteriolar remodeling with excessive pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation. This results in decreased responsiveness of pulmonary circulation to vasodilator therapies. We have shown that extracellular acidosis inhibits VSMC proliferation and migration in vitro. Here we tested whether induction of nonhypercapnic acidosis in vivo ameliorates PH and the underlying pulmonary vascular remodeling and dysfunction. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to hypoxia (8.5% O(2)) for 2 wk, or injected subcutaneously with monocrotaline (MCT, 60 mg/kg) to develop PH. Acidosis was induced with NH(4)Cl (1.5%) in the drinking water 5 days prior to and during the 2 wk of hypoxic exposure (prevention protocol), or after MCT injection from day 21 to 28 (reversal protocol). Right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) and Fulton's index were measured, and pulmonary arteriolar remodeling was analyzed. Pulmonary and mesenteric artery contraction to phenylephrine (Phe) and high KCl, and relaxation to acetylcholine (ACh) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP) were examined ex vivo. Hypoxic and MCT-treated rats demonstrated increased RVSP, Fulton's index, and pulmonary arteriolar thickening. In pulmonary arteries of hypoxic and MCT rats there was reduced contraction to Phe and KCl and reduced vasodilation to ACh and SNP. Acidosis prevented hypoxia-induced PH, reversed MCT-induced PH, and resulted in reduction in all indexes of PH including RVSP, Fulton's index, and pulmonary arteriolar remodeling. Pulmonary artery contraction to Phe and KCl was preserved or improved, and relaxation to ACh and SNP was enhanced in NH(4)Cl-treated PH animals. Acidosis alone did not affect the hemodynamics or pulmonary vascular function. Phe and KCl contraction and ACh and SNP relaxation were not different in mesenteric arteries of all groups. Thus nonhypercapnic acidosis ameliorates experimental PH, attenuates pulmonary arteriolar thickening, and enhances pulmonary vascular responsiveness to vasoconstrictor and vasodilator stimuli. Together with our finding that acidosis decreases VSMC proliferation, the results are consistent with the possibility that nonhypercapnic acidosis promotes differentiation of pulmonary VSMCs to a more contractile phenotype, which may enhance the effectiveness of vasodilator therapies in PH.