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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2012 Apr;52(4):814-21. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2011.10.003. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Regulation of the human coronary microcirculation.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Cardiology Division Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, United States.


Atherosclerosis of conduit epicardial arteries is the principal culprit behind the complications of coronary heart disease, but a growing body of literature indicates that the coronary microcirculation also contributes substantially to the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease. An understanding of mechanisms regulating microvascular function in humans is an essential foundation for understanding the role in disease, especially since these regulatory mechanisms vary substantially across species and vascular beds. In fact all subjects whose coronary tissue was used in the studies described have medical conditions that warrant cardiac surgery, thus relevance to the normal human must be inferential and is based on tissue from subjects without known arteriosclerotic disease. This review will focus on recent advances in the physiological and pathological mechanisms of coronary microcirculatory control, describing a robust plasticity in maintaining endothelial control over dilation, including mechanisms that are most relevant to the human heart. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Coronary Blood Flow".

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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