Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

In pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), how can right ventricular function be improved in the setting of increased afterload

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a complex, progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure in the lungs and restriction of flow through the pulmonary arterial system. Significant improvements have been made in medical management with through approved pulmonary vasodilator therapies. However, long-term right ventricular afterload reductions have still not yet been achieved. The process by which the RV remodels to accommodate this increased pressure and progresses to right ventricular failure is not well understood; PAH patients still die from right ventricular failure on average within approximately 8-10 years of diagnosis.

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

Understanding of many components of the PAH disease state have evolved significantly in the past thirty years. When initially described by an NIH registry, in a time where pulmonary transplantation was the only treatment for PAH, the average life expectancy of PAH patients was estimated to be 2.8 years. Since then, 12 PAH-targeted therapies have been approved by the FDA; these therapies primarily act by dilating the pulmonary arteries in order to allow blood to flow easier through the pulmonary vascular system. Despite these advances and complex therapies, long-term afterload reduction is not achievable in most PAH patients. Patients continue to die from right ventricular failure, highlighting the important relationship of the pulmonary arterial system and right ventricle. Little is known about how and why the RV progresses from hypertrophy to full RV failure, the diagnostic signs indicating early RV failure, and how best to intervene to support the failing ventricle. Knowledge in this area is critical, however, as the RV is able to recover in many patients with severe PAH after lung transplantation. The relationship between the lung vasculature and cardiac function, and specifically a characterization of RV failure, was included as a research opportunity in the Strategic Plan for Lung Vascular Research in an NHLBI-ORDR Workshop Report (Erzurum S, et al. 2010).

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

The primary challenge of addressing this CQ on how right ventricular function can be improved in the setting of increased afterload is the comprehensive analysis and support that will need to be provided, spanning from basic to clinical science. To begin, strong support of biologic characterization of the right ventricle needs to be provided. The RV is distinctly different from the more comprehensively studied left ventricle (LV), and subsequently responds differently to changes in pressure, neurotransmitters, hormones, and pharmaceutical therapies to name only a few. However, when identified, these RV biologic distinctions can be further explored to develop a better understanding of RV failure and potential points of intervention.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea Katherine Kroner, Michael Patrick Gray, PHA



65 net votes
72 up votes
7 down votes
Idea No. 775