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Cell Biochem Biophys. 2005;43(1):17-35.

Acute adaptations of the coronary circulation to exercise.

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Experimental Cardiology, Thoraxcenter, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Coronary blood flow is tightly coupled to myocardial oxygen consumption to maintain a consistently high level of myocardial oxygen extraction. This tight coupling has been proposed to depend on periarteriolar oxygen tension, signals released from cardiomyocytes (adenosine acting on K+(ATP) channels), and/or the endothelium (prostanoids, nitric oxide, endothelin [ET]) and autonomic influences (catecholamines), but the contribution of each of these regulatory pathways and their interactions are still incompletely understood. Until recently, experimental studies into the regulation of coronary blood flow during exercise were principally performed in the dog. We have performed several studies on the regulation of vasomotor tone in coronary resistance vessels in chronically instrumented exercising swine. These studies have shown that the coronary resistance vessels in swine lack significant alpha-adrenergic control, but that these vessels are subject to beta-adrenergic feed-forward control during exercise, which is aided by a parasympathetic withdrawal. In addition, withdrawal of an ET-mediated vasoconstrictor influence also contributes to exercise-induced coronary vasodilation. Coronary blood flow regulation by endothelial and metabolic vasodilator pathways contributes to resting vasomotor tone regulation but does not appear to contribute to the exercise-induced coronary vasodilation. Furthermore, blockade of one vasodilator pathway is not compensated by an increased contribution of the other vasodilator mechanisms, suggesting that porcine coronary vasomotor control by endothelial and metabolic factors occurs in a linear additive rather than a nonlinear synergistic fashion.

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