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Immunology and Infection

Right Ventricular Systolic Pressure Measurements in Combination with Harvest of Lung and Immune Tissue Samples in Mice

Published: January 16th, 2013



1Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Tuxedo, 2Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, & Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 3Division of Pulmonary Medicine, New York University School of Medicine
* These authors contributed equally

A specific and rapid protocol to simultaneously investigate right heart function, lung inflammation, and the immune response is described as a learning tool. Video and figures describe physiology and microdissection techniques in an organized team-approach that is adaptable to be used for small to large sized studies.

The function of the right heart is to pump blood through the lungs, thus linking right heart physiology and pulmonary vascular physiology. Inflammation is a common modifier of heart and lung function, by elaborating cellular infiltration, production of cytokines and growth factors, and by initiating remodeling processes 1.

Compared to the left ventricle, the right ventricle is a low-pressure pump that operates in a relatively narrow zone of pressure changes. Increased pulmonary artery pressures are associated with increased pressure in the lung vascular bed and pulmonary hypertension 2. Pulmonary hypertension is often associated with inflammatory lung diseases, for example chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or autoimmune diseases 3. Because pulmonary hypertension confers a bad prognosis for quality of life and life expectancy, much research is directed towards understanding the mechanisms that might be targets for pharmaceutical intervention 4. The main challenge for the development of effective management tools for pulmonary hypertension remains the complexity of the simultaneous understanding of molecular and cellular changes in the right heart, the lungs and the immune system.

Here, we present a procedural workflow for the rapid and precise measurement of pressure changes in the right heart of mice and the simultaneous harvest of samples from heart, lungs and immune tissues. The method is based on the direct catheterization of the right ventricle via the jugular vein in close-chested mice, first developed in the late 1990s as surrogate measure of pressures in the pulmonary artery5-13. The organized team-approach facilitates a very rapid right heart catheterization technique. This makes it possible to perform the measurements in mice that spontaneously breathe room air. The organization of the work-flow in distinct work-areas reduces time delay and opens the possibility to simultaneously perform physiology experiments and harvest immune, heart and lung tissues.

The procedural workflow outlined here can be adapted for a wide variety of laboratory settings and study designs, from small, targeted experiments, to large drug screening assays. The simultaneous acquisition of cardiac physiology data that can be expanded to include echocardiography5,14-17 and harvest of heart, lung and immune tissues reduces the number of animals needed to obtain data that move the scientific knowledge basis forward. The procedural workflow presented here also provides an ideal basis for gaining knowledge of the networks that link immune, lung and heart function. The same principles outlined here can be adapted to study other or additional organs as needed.

1. Preparation

  1. Prepare the following solutions and tubes (Table 1) as follows:
    1. Hanks solution, no calcium, magnesium or indicator with Penicillin (100 U/ml) / Streptomycin (100 mg/ml).
    2. Phosphate buffered saline (PBS), 1x, no calcium, no magnesium.
    3. Ethanol, 70 %, make 500 ml.
    4. Buffered formaldehyde, 7-10 % with PBS, make 500 ml.
    5. Anaesthesia solutions:
      1. Avertin. Carefully add 5 ml of 2-Methyl-2-butanol to 5 g of 2,2,2-Tribromoe.......

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The primary outcome for obtaining right heart pressure curves is achieved by the correct position of the right heart catheter. The shape of the pressure time curves is critical because the correct placement of the catheter inside of the right ventricle will result in pressure plateaus (Figure 4). Spiky curves, instead, indicate a catheter that is moved by the breathing or heart beat motion against the wall of the right ventricle. To detect potential problems with the stage of survival of the anima.......

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The experimental flow outlined here allows for rapid and simultaneous measurement of right ventricular systolic pressure and harvest of samples for the analysis of the responses in the lungs, heart and the immune system in mice. The procedure combines heart physiology measurements, micro-dissection and subsequent tissue harvest for live cell studies, histological analysis, or omics-analysis of the tissues. The complete procedure takes less than 20 min per mouse. Because of the work-area-organized workflow, 2-3 animals ca.......

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This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health 1R21HL092370-01 (GG), 1R01 HL095764-01 (GG); R01HL082694 (JW); American Heart Association, Founders affiliate (0855943D, GG); Stony Wold - Herbert Fund, New York (SHP).


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Name Company Catalogue number Comments (optional)
2-Methyl-2-butanol Sigma-Aldrich 152463
2,2,2-Tribromoethanol Sigma-Aldrich T48402
disinfectant soap (Coverage Spray TB plus Steris) Fisher Scientific 1629-08
Ethyl Alcohol, 200 Proof, Absolute, Anhydrous ACS/USP Grade PHARMCO-AAPER 111000200 Dilute to 70 % with distilled water
Formaldehyde solution Sigma-Aldrich F1635-500ML Dilute to a 7-10 % formaldehyde concentration at a PBS concentration of 1x using PBS stock solution and water
Hanks solution, no calcium, magnesium Fisher Scientific 21-022-CV
O.C.T Tissue-Tek 4583
Penicillin (10,000 U/ml) / Streptomycin (10,000 mg/ml) solution Thermo Scientific SV30010
Phosphate buffered saline (PBS), no calcium, no magnesium, 1x and 10x solutions Fisher Scientific
Sodium pentobarbital 26% Fort Dodge Animal Health NDC 0856-0471-01
Plates 12, 24, 96 well Falcon
Transfer Pipet Fisher Scientific 13-711-9BM
Tube, EDTA coated Sarstedt 2013-08
Tubes 0.65 ml and 1.7 ml micro-centrifuge VWR
Tubes 12 x 75 mm polypropylene Fisher Scientific 14-956-1D
Tubes, various sizes, polypropylene Fisher Scientific
Forceps, Dumon #5 Fine Fine Science Tools 11254-20
Forceps, extra fine graefe -0.5 mm tips curved Fine Science Tools 11152-10
Forceps, extra fine graefe -0.5 mm tips straight Fine Science Tools 11150-10
Cannula 18 ga, 19 ga BD Precision Glide Needles Cut to optimal length, blunted and outside rasped to create a rough outside surface.
Scissors, Dissector scissors-slim blades 9 cm Fine Science Tools 14081-09
Suture for BAL, braided silk suture, 4-0 Fine Science Tools SP116
Suture for right heart catheterization, braided silk suture, 6-0 Teleflex medical 18020-60
Syringe, 1 ml BD 309659
Amplifier, PowerLab 4/30 ADInstrument Model ML866
Catheter, pressure F1.4 Millar Instruments, Inc 840-6719
Dissecting Microscope Variscope
Forceps, Vannas spring scissors-2 mm blades Fine Science Tools 15000-00
Halogen Illuminated Desk Magnifier Fisher Scientific 11-990-56
Laptop computer Asus Model number A52F i5 processor; 15 inch
Light Source Amscope HL-250-A
Pressure Control Unit Millar Instruments, Inc PCU-2000
Software, Labchart-Pro V.7 AD Instruments

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