Pulmonary hypertension is attenuated and ventilation-perfusion matching is maintained during chronic hypoxia in deer mice native to high altitude Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Hypoxia at high altitude can constrain metabolism and performance, and can elicit physiological adjustments that are deleterious to health and fitness. Hypoxic pulmonary hypertension is a particularly serious and maladaptive response to chronic hypoxia, which results from vasoconstriction and pathological remodeling of pulmonary arteries, and can lead to pulmonary edema and right ventricle hypertrophy. We investigated whether deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) native to high altitude have attenuated this maladaptive response to chronic hypoxia, and whether evolved changes or hypoxia-induced plasticity in pulmonary vasculature might impact ventilation-perfusion (V-Q) matching in chronic hypoxia. Deer mouse populations from both high and low altitudes were born and raised to adulthood in captivity at sea level, and various aspects of lung function were measured before and after exposure to chronic hypoxia (12 kPa O2, simulating the O2 pressure at 4300 m) for 6-8 weeks. In lowlanders, chronic hypoxia increased right ventricle systolic pressure (RVSP) from 14 to 19 mmHg (P = 0.001), in association with thickening of smooth muscle in pulmonary arteries and right ventricle hypertrophy. Chronic hypoxia also impaired V-Q matching in lowlanders (measured at rest using SPECT-CT imaging), as reflected by increased log SD of the perfusion distribution (log SDQ) from 0.55 to 0.86 (P = 0.031). In highlanders, chronic hypoxia had attenuated effects on RVSP and no effects on smooth muscle thickness, right ventricle mass, or V-Q matching. Therefore, evolved changes in lung function help attenuate maladaptive plasticity and contribute to hypoxia tolerance in high-altitude deer mice.

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publication date

  • June 1, 2021