During the progression of pulmonary hypertension (PH), proximal pulmonary arteries (PAs) increase in both thickness and stiffness. Collagen, a component of the extracellular matrix, is mainly responsible for these changes via increased collagen fiber amount (or content) and crosslinking. We sought to differentiate the effects of collagen content and cross-linking on mouse PA mechanical changes using a constitutive model with parameters derived from experiments in which collagen content and cross-linking were decoupled during hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (HPH). We employed an eight-chain orthotropic element model to characterize collagen’s mechanical behavior and an isotropic neo-Hookean form to represent elastin. Our results showed a strong correlation between the material parameter related to collagen content and measured collagen content (R2 = 0.82, P < 0.0001) and a moderate correlation between the material parameter related to collagen crosslinking and measured crosslinking (R2 = 0.24, P = 0.06). There was no significant change in either the material parameter related to elastin or the measured elastin content from histology. The model-predicted pressure at which collagen begins to engage was ∼25 mmHg, which is consistent with experimental observations. We conclude that this model may allow us to predict changes in the arterial extracellular matrix from measured mechanical behavior in PH patients, which may provide insight into prognoses and the effects of therapy.
- β-Aminopropionitrile (BAPN)
- large pulmonary artery