The spontaneously hypertensive rat as a model of human cardiovascular disease: evidence of exacerbated cardiopulmonary injury and oxidative stress from inhaled emission particulate matter. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cardiovascular disease is considered a probable risk factor of particulate matter (PM)-related mortality and morbidity. It was hypothesized that rats with hereditary systemic hypertension and underlying cardiac disease would be more susceptible than healthy normotensive rats to pulmonary injury from inhaled residual oil fly ash (ROFA) PM. Eight spontaneously hypertensive (SH) and eight normotensive Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats (12-13 weeks old) were implanted with radiotelemetry transmitters on Day -10 for measurement of electrocardiographic (ECG) waveforms. These and other nonimplanted rats were exposed to filtered air or ROFA (containing leachable toxic levels of metals) on Day 0 by nose-only inhalation (ROFA, 15 mg/m(3) x 6 h/day x 3 days). ECGs were monitored during both exposure and nonexposure periods. At 0 or 18 h post-ROFA exposure, rats were assessed for airway hyperreactivity, pulmonary and cardiac histological lesions, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) markers of lung injury, oxidative stress, and cytokine gene expression. Comparisons were made in two areas: (1) underlying cardiopulmonary complications of control SH rats in comparison to control WKY rats; and (2) ROFA-induced cardiopulmonary injury/inflammation and oxidative burden. With respect to the first area, control air-exposed SH rats had higher lung and left ventricular weights when compared to age-matched WKY rats. SH rats had hyporeactive airways to acetylcholine challenge. Lung histology revealed the presence of activated macrophages, neutrophils, and hemorrhage in control SHrats. Consistently, levels of BALF protein, macrophages, neutrophils, and red blood cells were also higher in SH rats. Thiobarbituric acid-reactive material in the BALF of air-exposed SH rats was significantly higher than that of WKY rats. Lung inflammation and lesions were mirrored in the higher basal levels of pulmonary cytokine mRNA expression. Cardiomyopathy and monocytic cell infiltration were apparent in the left ventricle of SH rats, along with increased cytokine expression. ECG demonstrated a depressed ST segment area in SH rats. With regard to the second area of comparison (ROFA-exposed rats), pulmonary histology indicated a slightly exacerbated pulmonary lesions including inflammatory response to ROFA in SH rats compared to WKY rats and ROFA-induced increases in BALF protein and albumin were significantly higher in SH rats than in WKY rats. In addition, ROFA caused an increase in BALF red blood cells in SH rats, indicating increased hemorrhage in the alveolar parenchyma. The number of alveolar macrophages increased more dramatically in SH rats following ROFA exposure, whereas neutrophils increased similarly in both strains. Despite greater pulmonary injury in SH rats, ROFA-induced increases in BALF GSH, ascorbate, and uric acid were attenuated when compared to WKY rats. ROFA inhalation exposure was associated with similar increases in pulmonary mRNA expression of IL-6, cellular fibronectin, and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (relative to that of beta-actin) in both rat strains. The expression of MIP-2 was increased in WKY but attenuated in SH rats. Thus, SH rats have underlying cardiac and pulmonary complications. When exposed to ROFA, SH rats exhibited exacerbated pulmonary injury, an attenuated antioxidant response, and acute depression in ST segment area of ECG, which is consistent with a greater susceptibility to adverse health effects of fugitive combustion PM. This study shows that the SH rat is a potentially useful model of genetically determined susceptibility with pulmonary and cardiovascular complications.

publication date

  • May 2000