Pulmonary hypertension is a complex disorder characterized by pulmonary vascular remodeling and right ventricular hypertrophy, leading to right heart failure. The mechanisms underlying this process are not well understood. We hypothesize that the structural remodeling occurring in the cardiomyocytes of the right ventricle affects the cytosolic Ca2+ handling leading to arrhythmias. After 12 days of monocrotaline-induced pulmonary hypertension in rats, epicardial mapping showed electrical remodeling in both ventricles. In myocytes isolated from the hypertensive rats, a combination of high-speed camera and confocal line-scan documented a prolongation of Ca2+ transients along with a higher local Ca2+-release activity. These Ca2+ transients were less synchronous than in controls, likely due to disorganized transverse-axial tubular system. In fact, following pulmonary hypertension, hypertrophied right ventricular myocytes showed significantly reduced number of transverse tubules and increased number of axial tubules; however, Stimulation Emission Depletion microscopy demonstrated that the colocalization of L-type Ca2+ channels and RyR2 (ryanodine receptor 2) remained unchanged. Finally, Stimulation Emission Depletion microscopy and super-resolution scanning patch-clamp analysis uncovered a decrease in the density of active L-type Ca2+ channels in right ventricular myocytes with an elevated open probability of the T-tubule anchored channels. This may represent a general mechanism of how nanoscale structural changes at the early stage of pulmonary hypertension impact on the development of the end stage failing phenotype in the right ventricle.
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