Exercise and hypoxia unmask pulmonary vascular disease and right ventricular dysfunction in a 10- to 12-week-old swine model of neonatal oxidative injury

Jarno J. Steenhorst, Alexander Hirsch, Annemarie Verzijl, Piotr Wielopolski, Daphne de Wijs-Meijler, Dirk J. Duncker, Irwin K.M. Reiss, Daphne Merkus*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract: Prematurely born young adults who experienced neonatal oxidative injury (NOI) of the lungs have increased incidence of cardiovascular disease. Here, we investigated the long-term effects of NOI on cardiopulmonary function in piglets at the age of 10–12 weeks. To induce NOI, term-born piglets (1.81 ± 0.06 kg) were exposed to hypoxia (10–12% (Formula presented.)), within 2 days after birth, and maintained for 4 weeks or until symptoms of heart failure developed (range 16–28 days), while SHAM piglets were normoxia raised. Following recovery (>5 weeks), NOI piglets were surgically instrumented to measure haemodynamics during hypoxic challenge testing (HCT) and exercise with modulation of the nitric-oxide system. During exercise, NOI piglets showed a normal increase in cardiac index, but an exaggerated increase in pulmonary artery pressure and a blunted increase in left atrial pressure – suggesting left atrial under-filling – consistent with an elevated pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR), which correlated with the duration of hypoxia exposure. Moreover, hypoxia duration correlated inversely with stroke volume (SV) during exercise. Nitric oxide synthase inhibition and HCT resulted in an exaggerated increase in PVR, while the PVR reduction by phosphodiesterase-5 inhibition was enhanced in NOI compared to SHAM piglets. Finally, within the NOI piglet group, prolonged duration of hypoxia was associated with a better maintenance of SV during HCT, likely due to the increase in RV mass. In conclusion, duration of neonatal hypoxia appears an important determinant of alterations in cardiopulmonary function that persist further into life. These changes encompass both pulmonary vascular and cardiac responses to hypoxia and exercise. (Figure presented.). Key points: Children who suffered from neonatal oxidative injury, such as very preterm born infants, have increased risk of cardiopulmonary disease later in life. Risk stratification requires knowledge of the mechanistic underpinning and the time course of progression into cardiopulmonary disease. Exercise and hypoxic challenge testing showed that 10- to 12-week-old swine that previously experienced neonatal oxidative injury had increased pulmonary vascular resistance and nitric oxide dependency. Duration of neonatal oxidative injury was a determinant of structural and functional cardiopulmonary remodelling later in life. Remodelling of the right ventricle, as a result of prolonged neonatal oxidative injury, resulted in worse performance during exercise, but enabled better performance during the hypoxic challenge test. Increased nitric oxide dependency together with age- or comorbidity-related endothelial dysfunction may contribute to predisposition to pulmonary hypertension later in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3931-3950
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number17
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by DZHK; 81Z0600207 to D.M., The Sophia foundation S13‐12 to D.d.W., Erasmus MC grant – 2016‐15 to D.M.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Physiological Society.


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