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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2015 Apr 15;308(8):H830-40. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00583.2014. Epub 2015 Feb 6.

Abnormalities of capillary microarchitecture in a rat model of coronary ischemic congestive heart failure.

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Cardiovascular Research Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York.
Cardiovascular Research Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York


The aim of the present study is to explore the role of capillary disorder in coronary ischemic congestive heart failure (CHF). CHF was induced in rats by aortic banding plus ischemia-reperfusion followed by aortic debanding. Coronary arteries were perfused with plastic polymer containing fluorescent dye. Multiple fluorescent images of casted heart sections and scanning electric microscope of coronary vessels were obtained to characterize changes in the heart. Cardiac function was assessed by echocardiography and in vivo hemodynamics. Stenosis was found in all levels of the coronary arteries in CHF. Coronary vasculature volume and capillary density in remote myocardium were significantly increased in CHF compared with control. This occurred largely in microvessels with a diameter of ≤3 μm. Capillaries in CHF had a tortuous structure, while normal capillaries were linear. Capillaries in CHF had inconsistent diameters, with assortments of narrowed and bulged segments. Their surfaces appeared rough, potentially indicating endothelial dysfunction in CHF. Segments of main capillaries between bifurcations were significantly shorter in length in CHF than in control. Transiently increasing preload by injecting 50 μl of 30% NaCl demonstrated that the CHF heart had lower functional reserve; this may be associated with congestion in coronary microcirculation. Ischemic coronary vascular disorder is not limited to the main coronary arteries, as it occurs in arterioles and capillaries. Capillary disorder in CHF included stenosis, deformed structure, proliferation, and roughened surfaces. This disorder in the coronary artery architecture may contribute to the reduction in myocyte contractility in the setting of heart failure.


capillary; congestive heart failure; coronary artery; hypertension; ischemia-reperfusion

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