The presence of systemic left-to-right shunt and increased pulmonary blood flow can result in right heart failure and pulmonary arteriopathy. Correction of left-to-right shunt has been shown to improve cardiac function and physical performance. However, the cardiopulmonary remodeling processes following cessation of left-to-right shunt have yet to be reported. In this experimental study, excessive pulmonary flow was restored through ligation of the aortocaval fistula in rats with flow-induced pulmonary hypertension. The cardiopulmonary morphometric functions were assessed, and phenotypic switching of pulmonary vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) was determined. Ligation of aortocaval fistula significantly attenuated pulmonary blood flow and right ventricular mass, and potentiated the isometric contraction of pulmonary artery. Inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-6 were reduced in the lung after ligation. Reduction of pulmonary blood flow restored the expressions of smooth muscle myosin heavy chain and α-smooth muscle actin in pulmonary artery, indicating the switching of VSMCs to the contractile phenotype. Our study demonstrated that normalization of pulmonary blood flow in flow-induced pulmonary hypertension reverses the remodeling in the right ventricle and pulmonary artery. The remodeling process of flow-induced pulmonary hypertension is functionally and morphometrically reversible by inducing transdifferentiation of pulmonary VSMC to contractile phenotypes and modulation of tissue inflammatory cytokines.
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