Discovery sheds light on how changes in lungs can hurt the heart

by John Steeno

A team of UW-Madison researchers has discovered important biomechanical changes in human arteries that could increase understanding of how pulmonary hypertension leads to heart failure.

The team, led by Naomi Chesler, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, released its findings in a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE on Nov. 6, 2013.

The disease causes in the lungs. The most common cause of death for people with the most severe form, , is .

The UW-Madison researchers studied whether there is a link between the arterial changes caused by pulmonary arterial hypertension and the dysfunction of the heart's right ventricle.

The team explored changes in arteries' mechanical function caused by pulmonary arterial hypertension. The researchers—the first to measure heartbeat-frequency-dependent mechanical properties of both healthy and hypertensive arteries—found significant changes in both the damping ratio and the stiffness of large pulmonary arteries. In fact, the researchers found the viscoelastic properties exhibited different behaviors based on the frequency with heartbeat.

The team also found that pulmonary causes significant biological changes to the structure of arteries. Diseased arteries showed an increase in two proteins, collagen and proteoglycans, that provide structural and biochemical support for the artery. This altered protein accumulation suggests that the proteins play a yet-undetermined role in the disease.

This area of research is so new that Zhijie Wang, a research scientist in Chesler's Vascular Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory, says awareness of these biomechanical changes is critical for future research of the disease. "How these changes affect the heart, we don't know yet," she says. "It's quite new. Until we understand how not only , but also arterial damping affects heart function in this disease, we might not be developing the most effective therapies."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Opsumit approved for pulmonary arterial hypertension

Oct 23, 2013

(HealthDay)—Opsumit (macitentan) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a debilitating disease characterized by high blood pressure in the lung arteries.

Adempas approved to treat pulmonary hypertension

Oct 09, 2013

(HealthDay)—Adempas (riociguat) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat two types of pulmonary hypertension, characterized by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.

Research may yield improved treatment for diseased lungs

May 24, 2007

A multi-institutional team of engineers, scientists and clinicians from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will study large-artery biomechanics that could play a role in heart failure in patients with pulmonary arterial ...

In elderly, hardening of arteries linked to plaques in brain

Oct 16, 2013

Even for elderly people with no signs of dementia, those with hardening of the arteries are more likely to also have the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published ...

Recommended for you

Infant cooing, babbling linked to hearing ability

5 hours ago

Infants' vocalizations throughout the first year follow a set of predictable steps from crying and cooing to forming syllables and first words. However, previous research had not addressed how the amount ...

Developing 'tissue chip' to screen neurological toxins

6 hours ago

A multidisciplinary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research is creating a faster, more affordable way to screen for neural toxins, helping flag chemicals that ...

Gene mutation discovered in blood disorder

10 hours ago

An international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation that causes aplastic anemia, a serious blood disorder in which the bone marrow fails to produce normal amounts of blood cells. Studying a family in which ...

Airway muscle-on-a-chip mimics asthma

12 hours ago

The majority of drugs used to treat asthma today are the same ones that were used 50 years ago. New drugs are urgently needed to treat this chronic respiratory disease, which causes nearly 25 million people ...

User comments