Pulmonary obstruction occurs in many common forms of congenital heart disease. In this study, pulmonary artery (PA) banding is used as a model for pulmonary stenosis. Significant remodeling of the vascular bed occurs as a result of a prolonged narrowing of the PAs, and here we quantify the biophysical and molecular changes proximal and distal to the obstruction. Main and branch PAs are harvested from banded and sham rabbits and their mechanical properties are assessed using a biaxial tensile tester. Measurements defined as initial and stiff slopes are taken, assuming a linear region at the start and end of the J-shaped stress-strain curves, along with a transitional knee point. Collagen, elastin assays, Movat’s pentachrome staining, and Doppler protocols are used to quantify biochemical, structural, and physiological differences. The banded main PAs have significantly greater initial slopes while banded branch PAs have lower initial slopes; however, this change in mechanical behavior cannot be explained by the assay results as the elastin content in both main and branch PAs is not significantly different. The stiff slopes of the banded main PAs are higher, which is attributed to the significantly greater amounts of insoluble collagen. Shifting of the knee points reveals a decreased toe region in the main PAs but an opposite trend in the branch PAs. The histology results show a loss of integrity of the media, increase in ground substance, and dispersion of collagen in the banded tissue samples. This indicates other structural changes could have led to the mechanical differences in banded and normal tissue.

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