Background Heart failure is a leading cause of death but very little is known about right ventricular (RV) failure (RVF) and right ventricular recovery (RVR). A robust animal model of reversible, RVF does not exist, which currently limits research opportunities and clinical progress. We sought to develop an animal model of reversible, pressure-overload RVF to study RVF and RVR. Materials and methods Fifteen New Zealand rabbits underwent implantation of a fully implantable, adjustable, pulmonary artery band. Animals were assigned to the control, RVF, and RVR groups (n = 5 for each). For the RVF and RVR groups, the pulmonary artery bands were serially tightened to create RVF and released for RVR. Echocardiographic, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging, and histologic analysis were performed. Results RV chamber size and wall thickness increased during RVF and regressed during RVR. RV volumes were 1023 μL ± 123 for control, 2381 μL ± 637 for RVF, and 635 μL ± 549 for RVR, and RV wall thicknesses were 0.98 mm ± 0.12 for controls (P = 0.05), 1.72 mm ± 0.60 for RVF, and 1.16 mm ± 0.03 for RVR animals (P = 0.04), respectively. Similarly, heart weight, liver weight, cardiomyocyte size, and the degree of cardiac and hepatic fibrosis increased with RVF and decreased during RVR. Conclusions We report an animal model of chronic, reversible, pressure-overload RVF to study RVF and RVR. This model will be used for preclinical studies that improve our understanding of the mechanisms of RVF and that develop and test RV protective and RVR strategies to be studied later in humans.
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