We induced chronic pulmonary hypertension in one group of rats by exposing them to chronic hypobaric hypoxia (380 mm Hg for three weeks) and in another group by administering a single subcutaneous dose of monocrotaline (60 mg/kg body weight). Both groups of rats showed increase of the right ventricular mean systolic blood pressure and right ventricular hypertrophy. We measured the surface area of histological sections of the left or right lungs and counted all small blood vessels with an external diameter of less than 50 microns and with a definite elastic coat lying distal to respiratory bronchioles. In the 10 rats with chronic hypoxic pulmonary hypertension the mean total number of small pulmonary blood vessels was 428.8 +/- 96.9 (SD) compared with 337.8 +/- 91.9 in 10 untreated control rats. The number of small pulmonary blood vessels per mm2 of lung tissue was 4.0 +/- 1.3 in the chronically hypoxic rats compared with 3.8 +/- 1.2 in the controls. The mean total number of small pulmonary blood vessels in nine rats with monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension was 396.8 +/- 61.7 compared with 384 +/- 55.4 in three control rats. The number of small pulmonary blood vessels per mm2 lung tissue was 3.3 +/- 0.6 in the rats treated with monocrotaline compared with 3.6 +/- 0.6 in the control group. We conclude that the number of small pulmonary blood vessels is not reduced in rats with pulmonary hypertension induced by chronic hypoxia or monocrotaline.
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