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Circ Res. 1988 Feb;62(2):216-25.

Transmural differences in sympathetic coronary constriction during exercise in the presence of coronary stenosis.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Center, University of Iowa, College of Medicine, Iowa City.


The goal of this study was to determine the effect of sympathetic neural activation on the transmural distribution of myocardial perfusion distal to a flow-limiting coronary artery stenosis. Treadmill exercise in conscious dogs was used as a physiological stimulus to activate the sympathetic nervous system. In the experimental model, the anterior region of the circumflex artery was innervated, but the posterior circumflex region was treated with phenol to produce regional sympathectomy within the stenotic territory. Myocardial perfusion to innervated and sympathectomized left ventricular regions was measured before and after inflation of the occluder to reduce distal coronary pressure to 45 mm Hg. Measurements were obtained during control conditions with the animal standing on the treadmill, during inflation of the occluder with the animal standing, during exercise alone, during exercise with beta-adrenergic blockade, and during exercise with combined alpha- and beta-adrenergic blockade. Exercise (6 km/hr) resulted in a marked increase in heart rate from 128 +/- 9 (standing) to 218 +/- 7 beats/min. beta-Adrenergic blockade blunted the tachycardia during exercise (146 +/- 6 beats/min). Under control conditions (while standing), there were no differences in myocardial perfusion between the innervated and sympathectomized regions, 187 +/- 26 and 181 +/- 24 ml.min-1.100 g-1, respectively. During exercise or in combination with beta-adrenergic blockade, subepicardial perfusion was significantly less (18-25%) in the innervated stenotic region than that in the sympathectomized stenotic region. In contrast, subendocardial perfusion was significantly greater in the innervated stenotic region (17-26%) than that in the sympathectomized stenotic region. The subendocardial-to-subepicardial blood flow ratio during exercise was 0.60 +/- 0.08 in the innervated stenotic region and 0.42 +/- 0.07 in the sympathectomized stenotic region (p less than 0.05). During exercise with beta-adrenergic blockade, the endocardial-to-epicardial blood flow ratios in the innervated and sympathectomized stenotic regions were 0.47 +/- 0.09 and 0.37 +/- 0.07, respectively (p less than 0.05). These differences were abolished during alpha- and beta-adrenergic blockade. These data indicate that alpha-adrenergic coronary constriction distal to a flow-limiting stenosis facilitates redistribution of blood flow toward the subendocardium. This redistribution was produced by alpha-adrenergic constriction in the outer layers of the left ventricle.

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