In a monocrotaline (MCT) induced-pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) rat animal model, the dynamic stress–strain relation was investigated in the circumferential and axial directions using a linear elastic response model within the quasi-linear viscoelasticity theory framework. Right and left pulmonary arterial segments (RPA and LPA) were mechanically tested in a tubular biaxial device at the early stage (1 week post-MCT treatment) and at the advanced stage of the disease (4 weeks post-MCT treatment). The vessels were tested circumferentially at the in vivo axial length with matching in vivo measured pressure ranges. Subsequently, the vessels were tested axially at the mean pulmonary arterial pressure by stretching them from in vivo plus 5% of their length. Parameter estimation showed that the LPA and RPA remodel at different rates: axially, both vessels decreased in Young's modulus at the early stage of the disease, and increased at the advanced disease stage. Circumferentially, the Young's modulus increased in advanced PAH, but it was only significant in the RPA. The damping properties also changed in PAH; in the LPA relaxation times decreased continuously as the disease progressed, while in the RPA they initially increased and then decreased. Our modeling efforts were corroborated by the restructuring organization of the fibers imaged under multiphoton microscopy, where the collagen fibers become strongly aligned to the 45 deg angle in the RPA from an uncrimped and randomly organized state. Additionally, collagen content increased almost 10% in the RPA from the placebo to advanced PAH.

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