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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2007 May;292(5):H2449-58. Epub 2007 Jan 5.

Impaired myocardial perfusion reserve in experimental hypercholesterolemia is independent of myocardial neovascularization.

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Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic Rochester, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Our objective was to investigate the functional role of hypercholesterolemia-associated myocardial neovascularization in early atherosclerosis using the antiangiogenic thalidomide. Experimental atherosclerosis is characterized by myocardial neovascularization, associated with a decrease in myocardial perfusion response to challenge, coronary endothelial dysfunction, and high oxidative stress. However, the functional significance of these neovessels is not known. Three groups of pigs (n = 6 each) were studied after 12 wk of normal or hypercholesterolemic diet without (HC) or with thalidomide (HC + Thal). Myocardial perfusion and permeability were assessed at baseline and in response to cardiac challenge, using electron beam computed tomography, and coronary endothelial function was assessed using organ chambers. Myocardial samples were scanned ex vivo with a three-dimensional microscopic computed tomography scanner, and the spatial density of the myocardial microvessels was quantified. Growth factors and oxidative stress were measured in the myocardial tissue. As a results of these procedures, myocardial perfusion response to adenosine and dobutamine was blunted in both HC and HC + Thal pigs compared with normal pigs (P < 0.05, HC and HC + Thal vs. normal) as was the coronary endothelial function. Myocardial permeability response to adenosine was increased in both HC and HC + Thal pigs compared with normal pigs (P < 0.05, HC and HC + Thal vs. normal, and HC + Thal vs. HC). The microvascular density was increased in HC pigs compared with normal pigs but normalized in HC + Thal pigs (P < 0.001 HC vs. normal and HC + Thal). HC + Thal pigs showed decreased expression of Flk-1 and basic FGF but increased expression of VEGF compared with normal and HC pigs. Oxidative stress was increased in both HC and HC + Thal pigs compared with normal pigs. In conclusion, chronic administration of thalidomide attenuates myocardial neovascularization in experimental HC pigs without affecting myocardial perfusion response to stimulation. This suggests that the myocardial neovascularization may not contribute to the attenuated myocardial perfusion response in hypercholesterolemia.

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