Levosimendan is approved for acute heart failure. Within this context, pulmonary hypertension represents a frequent co-morbidity. Hence, the effects of levosimendan on segmental pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) are relevant. So far, this issue has been not studied. Beyond that the relaxant effects of levosimendan in human pulmonary vessel are unknown. We addressed these topics in rats’ isolated perfused lungs (IPL) and human precision-cut lung slices (PCLS).
In IPL, levosimendan (10 μM) was perfused in untreated and endothelin-1 pre-contracted lungs. The pulmonary arterial pressure (PPA) was continuously recorded and the capillary pressure (Pcap) was determined by the double-occlusion method. Thereafter, segmental PVR, expressed as precapillary (Rpre) and postcapillary resistance (Rpost) and PVR were calculated. Human PCLS were prepared from patients undergoing lobectomy. Levosimendan-induced relaxation was studied in naïve and endothelin-1 pre-contracted PAs and PVs. In endothelin-1 pre-contracted PAs, the role of K+-channels was studied by inhibition of KATP-channels (glibenclamide), BKCa2+-channels (iberiotoxin) and Kv-channels (4-aminopyridine). All changes of the vascular tone were measured by videomicroscopy. In addition, the increase of cAMP/GMP due to levosimendan was measured by ELISA.
Levosimendan did not relax untreated lungs or naïve PAs and PVs. In IPL, levosimendan attenuated the endothelin-1 induced increase of PPA, PVR, Rpre and Rpost. In human PCLS, levosimendan relaxed pre-contracted PAs or PVs to 137% or 127%, respectively. In pre-contracted PAs, the relaxant effect of levosimendan was reduced, if KATP- and Kv-channels were inhibited. Further, levosimendan increased cGMP in PAs/PVs, but cAMP only in PVs.
Levosimendan reduces rats’ segmental PVR and relaxes human PAs or PVs, if the pulmonary vascular tone is enhanced by endothelin-1. Regarding levosimendan-induced relaxation, the activation of KATP- and Kv-channels is of impact, as well as the formation of cAMP and cGMP. In conclusion, our results suggest that levosimendan improves pulmonary haemodynamics, if PVR is increased as it is the case in pulmonary hypertension.