Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Respir Res. 2013 Jan 22;14:6. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-14-6.

Loss of alveolar membrane diffusing capacity and pulmonary capillary blood volume in pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Author information

Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.



Reduced gas transfer in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is traditionally attributed to remodeling and progressive loss of pulmonary arterial vasculature that results in decreased capillary blood volume available for gas exchange.


We tested this hypothesis by determination of lung diffusing capacity (DL) and its components, the alveolar capillary membrane diffusing capacity (D(m)) and lung capillary blood volume (V(c)) in 28 individuals with PAH in comparison to 41 healthy individuals, and in 19 PAH patients over time. Using single breath simultaneous measure of diffusion of carbon monoxide (DL(CO)) and nitric oxide (DL(NO)), DL and D(m) were respectively determined, and V(c) calculated. D(m) and V(c) were evaluated over time in relation to standard clinical indicators of disease severity, including brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) and right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) by echocardiography.


Both DL(CO) and DL(NO) were reduced in PAH as compared to controls and the lower DL in PAH was due to loss of both D(m) and V(c) (all p < 0.01). While DL(CO) of PAH patients did not change over time, DL(NO) decreased by 24 ml/min/mmHg/year (p = 0.01). Consequently, D(m) decreased and V(c) tended to increase over time, which led to deterioration of the D(m)/V(c) ratio, a measure of alveolar-capillary membrane functional efficiency without changes in clinical markers.


The findings indicate that lower than normal gas transfer in PAH is due to loss of both D(m) and V(c), but that deterioration of D(m)/V(c) over time is related to worsening membrane diffusion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center