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Circulation. 1992 Jan;85(1):69-77.

Nitroglycerin-induced coronary vasodilation in cardiac transplant recipients. Evaluation with in vivo intracoronary ultrasound.

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Stanford University School of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, CA 94305.



Coronary artery vasomotion is altered after cardiac transplantation. The impact of accelerated transplant coronary atherosclerosis and myocardial rejection on vasomotion is not well understood. Intravascular ultrasound is a new imaging method with the ability to study real-time changes in coronary artery dimensions.


Epicardial coronary artery response to nitroglycerin was studied in 32 cardiac transplant recipients (age, 47 +/- 11 years) 3 weeks to 10 years after transplantation with intracoronary ultrasound. Cross-sectional luminal area and diameter were measured at a fixed position in the left anterior descending artery immediately before and every 30 seconds for 5 minutes after 0.4 mg of sublingual nitroglycerin. Cross-sectional area increased from a baseline of 13.1 +/- 3.9 mm2 to 15.8 +/- 3.9 mm2 at maximal vasodilation; luminal diameter increased from 4.0 +/- 0.6 mm to 4.5 +/- 0.6 mm. This increase reached statistical significance (p less than 0.001) at 1.5 minutes after administration of nitroglycerin; mean maximum increase occurred at 4.5 minutes (24% for cross-sectional area and 11% for luminal diameter). Patients with biopsy-proven mild or moderate concurrent rejection had a significantly blunted vasodilatory response versus the nonrejection group (9% versus 27% for cross-sectional area, p less than 0.04), although a vasodilatory effect was still present. Nitroglycerin response was well preserved in patients up to 10 years after transplantation; however, there was a trend toward a decreased response in patients studied immediately after transplantation (21% versus 29%, p = 0.37). Coronary intimal thickness, as measured by ultrasound, had no impact on the vasodilatory response (R = 0.23, p = 0.34).


Vasodilatory response to nitroglycerin in cardiac transplant recipients is attenuated during episodes of cardiac rejection. This response is preserved in long-term survivors and is independent of the degree of intimal thickening. Intravascular ultrasound provides a new method to document real-time epicardial coronary vasomotion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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