An inadequate pulmonary vascular capacity and susceptibility to pulmonary arterial hypertension in broilers

R. F. Wideman, M. E. Chapman, K. R. Hamal, O. T. Bowen, A. G. Lorenzoni, G. F. Erf, N. B. Anthony

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Broilers are susceptible to pulmonary hypertension syndrome (PHS; ascites syndrome) when their pulmonary vascular capacity is anatomically or functionally inadequate to accommodate the requisite cardiac output without an excessive elevation in pulmonary arterial pressure. The consequences of an inadequate pulmonary vascular capacity have been demonstrated experimentally and include elevated pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) attributable to noncompliant, fully engorged vascular channels; sustained pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH); systemic hypoxemia and hypercapnia; specific right ventricular hypertrophy, and right atrioventricular valve failure (regurgitation), leading to central venous hypertension and hepatic cirrhosis. Pulmonary vascular capacity is broadly defined to encompass anatomical constraints related to the compliance and effective volume of blood vessels, as well as functional limitations related to the tone (degree of constriction) maintained by the primary resistance vessels (arterioles) within the lungs. Surgical occlusion of 1 pulmonary artery halves the anatomical pulmonary vascular capacity, doubles the PVR, triggers PAH, eliminates PHS-susceptible broilers, and reveals PHS-resistant survivors whose lungs are innately capable of handling sustained increases in pulmonary arterial pressure and cardiac output. We currently are using i.v. microparticle injections to increase the PVR and trigger PAH sufficient in magnitude to eliminate PHS-susceptible individuals while allowing PHS-resistant individuals to survive as progenitors of robust broiler lines. The microparticles obstruct pulmonary arterioles and cause local tissues and responding leukocytes to release vasoactive substances, including the vasodilator NO and the highly effective vasoconstrictors thromboxane A2 and serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)]. Nitric oxide is the principal vasodilator responsible for modulating (attenuating) the PAH response and ensuing mortality triggered by i.v. microparticle injections, whereas microparticle-induced increases in PVR can be attributed principally to 5-HT. Our observations support the hypothesis that susceptibility to PHS is a consequence of anatomically inadequate pulmonary vascular capacity combined with the functional predominance of the vasoconstrictor 5-HT over the vasodilator NO. The contribution of TxA2 remains to be determined. Selecting broiler lines for resistance to PHS depends upon improving both anatomical and functional components of pulmonary vascular capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-998
Number of pages15
JournalPoultry science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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