Ovarian Hormones Do Not Mediate Protection Against Pulmonary Hypertension And Right Ventricular Remodeling In Female Mice Exposed To Chronic, Inhaled Nicotine

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American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology


Electronic cigarette use has increased globally prompting calls for improved understanding of nicotine’s cardiovascular health effects. Our group has previously demonstrated that chronic, inhaled nicotine induces pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular (RV) remodeling in male mice, but not female mice, suggesting sex differences in nicotine-related pathology. Clinically, biological females develop pulmonary hypertension more often but have less severe disease than biological males, likely because of the cardiopulmonary protective effects of estrogen. Nicotine is also metabolized more rapidly in biological females because of differences in cytochrome-P450 activity, which are thought to be mediated by female sex hormones. These findings led us to hypothesize that female mice are protected against nicotine-induced pulmonary hypertension by an ovarian hormone-dependent mechanism. In this study, intact and ovariectomized (OVX) female mice were exposed to chronic, inhaled nicotine or room air for 12 h/day for 10–12 wk. We report no differences in serum cotinine levels between intact and OVX mice. In addition, we found no structural (RV or left ventricular dimensions and Fulton index) or functional (RV systolic pressure, pulmonary vascular resistance, cardiac output, ejection fraction, and fractional shortening) evidence of cardiopulmonary dysfunction in intact or OVX mice. We conclude that ovarian hormones do not mediate cardiopulmonary protection against nicotine-induced pulmonary hypertension. Due to profound sex differences in clinical pulmonary hypertension pathogenesis and nicotine metabolism, further studies are necessary to elucidate mechanisms underlying protection from nicotine-induced pathology in female mice.

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