The prostaglandin synthetase inhibitor indomethacin was given orally or intravenously to pregnant ewes. This resulted in a significant rise in the fetal pulmonary-to-systemic arterial mean blood pressure difference across the ductus arteriosus, presumably secondary to constriction of the ductus arteriosus. In five experiments the pressure difference could be promptly but temporarily reversed by the administration of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) into the fetal inferior vena cava. Fetal lungs from study and control animals were fixed by perfusion at measured pulmonary arterial mean blood pressure, and fifth-generation resistance vessels were studied. The medial width/external diameter ratio was significantly increased in the study vs the control lungs due to increased smooth muscle and decreased external diameter. In addition, study fetuses had acute degenerative myocardial changes in the tricuspid valve papillary muscles, the right ventricular free wall and the interventricular septum. Similar changes were not seen in control fetuses. Indomethacin administration during pregnancy causes constriction of the fetal ductus arteriosus, fetal pulmonary arterial hypertension, and right ventricular damage. If severe, this may cause rapid fetal death. If less severe, in the newborn infant, this mechanism may be one cause of persistent pulmonary hypertension due to vasoconstriction and increased pulmonary arterial smooth muscle and/or tricuspid insufficiency due to papillary muscle infarction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)