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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58047. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058047. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Non-invasive detection of coronary endothelial response to sequential handgrip exercise in coronary artery disease patients and healthy adults.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.



Our objective is to test the hypothesis that coronary endothelial function (CorEndoFx) does not change with repeated isometric handgrip (IHG) stress in CAD patients or healthy subjects.


Coronary responses to endothelial-dependent stressors are important measures of vascular risk that can change in response to environmental stimuli or pharmacologic interventions. The evaluation of the effect of an acute intervention on endothelial response is only valid if the measurement does not change significantly in the short term under normal conditions. Using 3.0 Tesla (T) MRI, we non-invasively compared two coronary artery endothelial function measurements separated by a ten minute interval in healthy subjects and patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).


Twenty healthy adult subjects and 12 CAD patients were studied on a commercial 3.0 T whole-body MR imaging system. Coronary cross-sectional area (CSA), peak diastolic coronary flow velocity (PDFV) and blood-flow were quantified before and during continuous IHG stress, an endothelial-dependent stressor. The IHG exercise with imaging was repeated after a 10 minute recovery period.


In healthy adults, coronary artery CSA changes and blood-flow increases did not differ between the first and second stresses (mean % change ±SEM, first vs. second stress CSA: 14.8%±3.3% vs. 17.8%±3.6%, p = 0.24; PDFV: 27.5%±4.9% vs. 24.2%±4.5%, p = 0.54; blood-flow: 44.3%±8.3 vs. 44.8%±8.1, p = 0.84). The coronary vasoreactive responses in the CAD patients also did not differ between the first and second stresses (mean % change ±SEM, first stress vs. second stress: CSA: -6.4%±2.0% vs. -5.0%±2.4%, p = 0.22; PDFV: -4.0%±4.6% vs. -4.2%±5.3%, p = 0.83; blood-flow: -9.7%±5.1% vs. -8.7%±6.3%, p = 0.38).


MRI measures of CorEndoFx are unchanged during repeated isometric handgrip exercise tests in CAD patients and healthy adults. These findings demonstrate the repeatability of noninvasive 3T MRI assessment of CorEndoFx and support its use in future studies designed to determine the effects of acute interventions on coronary vasoreactivity.

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