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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 May;82(5):1584-92.

Very high pressures are required to cause stress failure of pulmonary capillaries in thoroughbred racehorses.

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Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0623, USA.


Thoroughbred horses develop extremely high pulmonary vascular pressures during galloping, all horses in training develop exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, and we have shown that this is caused by stress failure of pulmonary capillaries. It is known that the capillary transmural pressure (Ptm) necessary for stress failure is higher in dogs than in rabbits. The present study was designed to determine this value in horses. The lungs from 15 Thoroughbred horses were perfused with autologous blood at Ptm values (midlung) of 25, 50, 75, 100 and 150 mmHg, and then perfusion fixed, and samples (dorsal and ventral, from caudal region) were examined by electron microscopy. Few disruptions of capillary endothelium were observed at Ptm < or = 75 mmHg, and 5.3 +/- 2.2 and 4.3 +/- 0.7 breaks/mm endothelium were found at 100 and 150 mmHg Ptm, respectively. Blood-gas barrier thickness did not change with Ptm. At low Ptm, interstitial thickness was greater than previously found in rabbits but not in dogs. We conclude that the Ptm required to cause stress failure of pulmonary capillaries is between 75 and 100 mmHg and is greater in Thoroughbred horses than in both rabbits and dogs.

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