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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Respiratory Research 1/2018

Metabolic reprogramming of the urea cycle pathway in experimental pulmonary arterial hypertension rats induced by monocrotaline

Respiratory Research > Ausgabe 1/2018
Hai-Kuo Zheng, Jun-Han Zhao, Yi Yan, Tian-Yu Lian, Jue Ye, Xiao-Jian Wang, Zhe Wang, Zhi-Cheng Jing, Yang-Yang He, Ping Yang



Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare systemic disorder associated with considerable metabolic dysfunction. Although enormous metabolomic studies on PAH have been emerging, research remains lacking on metabolic reprogramming in experimental PAH models. We aim to evaluate the metabolic changes in PAH and provide new insight into endogenous metabolic disorders of PAH.


A single subcutaneous injection of monocrotaline (MCT) (60 mg kg− 1) was used for rats to establish PAH model. Hemodynamics and right ventricular hypertrophy were adopted to evaluate the successful establishment of PAH model. Plasma samples were assessed through targeted metabolomic profiling platform to quantify 126 endogenous metabolites. Orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) was used to discriminate between MCT-treated model and control groups. Metabolite Set Enrichment Analysis was adapted to exploit the most disturbed metabolic pathways.


Endogenous metabolites of MCT treated PAH model and control group were well profiled using this platform. A total of 13 plasma metabolites were significantly altered between the two groups. Metabolite Set Enrichment Analysis highlighted that a disruption in the urea cycle pathway may contribute to PAH onset. Moreover, five novel potential biomarkers in the urea cycle, adenosine monophosphate, urea, 4-hydroxy-proline, ornithine, N-acetylornithine, and two candidate biomarkers, namely, O-acetylcarnitine and betaine, were found to be highly correlated with PAH.


The present study suggests a new role of urea cycle disruption in the pathogenesis of PAH. We also found five urea cycle related biomarkers and another two candidate biomarkers to facilitate early diagnosis of PAH in metabolomic profile.
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