Human immunodeficiency virus transgenic rats exhibit pulmonary hypertension.
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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a serious noninfectious disease involving an aberrant increase in pressure in the blood vessels of the lung, which leads to right ventricular (RV) heart failure and can eventually result in death. A lack of viable animal models of HIV-PAH has limited the identification of signaling pathways involved in HIV-mediated onset and progression of PAH. To determine whether the HIV-1 transgenic (HIV Tg) rat displays pathophysiological end points associated with PAH, we evaluated peak RV systolic pressure (RVSP), RV hypertrophy, pulmonary vessel remodeling, and alterations in gene expression by real-time PCR and microarray. RVSP was measured by RV catheterization via the right jugular vein in 3- and 9-mo-old HIV Tg and age-matched Fischer 344 (control) male rats while under 2% isoflurane anesthesia. RVSP was elevated in the HIV Tg rats (34.2 ± 2.5 mmHg) compared with the F344 controls (21.2 ± 2.5 mmHg), with more significant elevations in the 9-mo-old HIV Tg rats (42.5 ± 3.7 mmHg). We observed significant increases in RV wall thickness in HIV Tg rats compared with controls, both histologically and by echocardiograph measurement. HIV Tg rats also show increased thickening of the pulmonary artery and remodeling of small pulmonary arteries, as well as altered expression of gene pathways associated with PAH. These data represent the first analysis of PAH in HIV Tg rats and suggest that this model will be useful for investigating pathways and identifying potential therapies for HIV-PAH.