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J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2004 Nov;44 Suppl 1:S386-9.

Role of the endothelin system in secondary pulmonary hypertension related to air embolism: lessons learned from testing four classes of endothelin blockers in a rat model.

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  • 1Laval Hospital Research Center, Quebec Heart and Lung Institute, Department of Medicine, Laval University, Ste-Foy, QC, Canada.


A rat model of acute pulmonary air embolism (APAE) was developed. These animals had a higher right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) (+ 69% at 15-minute peak, and 21-34% at 30-180 minutes), as well as a reduced mean arterial blood pressure (10-20% at 60-180 minutes), heart rate (20-26% at 60-180 minutes) and PaO2 (9-11% at 30-180 minutes) compared with control rats. The role of the endothelin (ET) system, known to be involved in pulmonary hypertension of various etiologies, was investigated by evaluating the effect of the four classes of ET blockers: ET-converting enzyme inhibitor (ECEi) (CGS 35066), selective endothelin-A receptor antagonist (ETA-Ra) (Atrasentan, ABT-627), endothelin-B receptor antagonist (ETB-Ra) (A-192621) or mixed endothelin-A/endothelin-B receptor antagonist (ETA/B-Ra) (A-182086) in this animal model. All four were effective, to various degrees, at reducing the APAE-induced rise in RVSP. The relative efficacy of those compounds in reducing the acute elevation (15 minutes) of RVSP was ECEi >or= ETA/B-Ra >> ETA-Ra = ETB-Ra. The sustained elevation (30-180 minutes) of RVSP was totally abolished by ECEi and attenuated by other ET blockers with a relative efficacy of ETA-Ra > ETA/B-Ra >or= ETB-Ra. ET receptor antagonists did not affect right ventricular basal tone (control rats) whereas ECEi reduced it by up to 12% after 2 hours. The APAE reduction in mean arterial blood pressure was unaffected by ETARa, was completely normalized by ETB-Ra, but was further reduced by either ETA/B-Ra or ECEi. The basal mean arterial blood pressure in control rats was unaffected by ETA-Ra, was elevated by ETB-Ra, but was depressed by ETA/B-Ra and ECEi. All ET blockers maintained normal oxygen saturation in APAE. These results support a role for ETs in rat APAE, since ET blockers can attenuate the cardiopulmonary deterioration and blood gas exchange. However, modulation of the central hemodynamic profile is more complex and may limit the usefulness of some ET blockers.

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