Pulmonary vascular response of the coati to chronic hypoxia
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The unusually muscular pulmonary arteries normally present in cattle and swine residing at low altitude are associated with a rapid development of severe pulmonary hypertension when those animals are moved to high altitude. Because these species lack collateral ventilation, they appear to have an increased dependence on hypoxic vasoconstriction to maintain normal ventilation-perfusion balance, which, in turn, maintains thickened arterial walls. The only other species known to lack collateral ventilation is the coati, which, similarly, has thick-walled pulmonary arteries. We tested the hypothesis that coatis will develop severe high-altitude pulmonary hypertension by exposing six of these animals (Nasua narica) to a simulated altitude of 4,900 m for 6 wk. After the exposure, pulmonary arterial pressures were hardly elevated, right ventricular hypertrophy was minimal, there was no muscularization of pulmonary arterioles, and, most surprising of all, there was a decrease in medial thickness of muscular pulmonary arteries. These unexpected results break a consistent cross-species pattern in which animals with thick muscular pulmonary arteries at low altitude develop severe pulmonary hypertension at high altitude.
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