Bimodal right ventricular dysfunction after postnatal hyperoxia exposure: Implications for the preterm heart

Santosh Kumari, Rudolf K. Braun, Laura H. Tetri, Gregory P. Barton, Timothy A. Hacker, Kara N. Goss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Rats exposed to postnatal hyperoxia develop right ventricular (RV) dysfunction, mild pulmonary hypertension, and dysregulated cardiac mitochondrial biogenesis when aged to one year, with the degree of cardiac dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension similar to that previously described in young adults born preterm. Here, we sought to understand the impact of postnatal hyperoxia exposure on RV hemodynamic and mitochondrial function across the life span. In Methods, pups from timed-pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized to normoxia or hyperoxia [fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2), 0.85] exposure for the first 14 days of life, a commonly used model of chronic lung disease of prematurity. RV hemodynamic and mitochondrial function were assessed by invasive measurement of RV pressure-volume loops and by high-resolution respirometry at postnatal day 21 (P21), P90, and P365. In Results, at P21, hyperoxia-exposed rats demonstrated severe pulmonary hypertension and RV dysfunction, accompanied by depressed mitochondrial oxidative capacity. However, significant upregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis at P21 as well as improved afterload led to complete RV hemodynamic and mitochondrial recovery at P90. Mitochondrial DNA mutations were significantly higher by P90 and associated with significant late RV mitochondrial and hemodynamic dysfunction at P365. In conclusion, there appears to be a “honeymoon period” where cardiac hemodynamic and mitochondrial function normalizes following postnatal hyperoxia exposure, only to decline again with ongoing aging. This finding may have significant implications if a long-term pulmonary vascular screening program were to be developed for children or adults with a history of severe prematurity. Further investigation into the mechanisms of recovery are warranted. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Premature birth is associated with increased risk for cardiac dysfunction and failure throughout life. Here, we identify bimodal right ventricular dysfunction after postnatal hyperoxia exposure. Mitochondrial biogenesis serves as an early adaptive feature promoting recovery of cardiac hemodynamic and mitochondrial function. However, the accumulation of mitochondrial DNA mutations results in late mitochondrial and right ventricular dysfunction. This bimodal right ventricular dysfunction may have important implications for the development of screening programs in the preterm population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1272-H1281
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Heart failure
  • Mitochondria
  • Pediatric
  • Prematurity
  • Pulmonary hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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