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J Clin Invest. 1995 Apr;95(4):1747-55.

Nitric oxide activity in the human coronary circulation. Impact of risk factors for coronary atherosclerosis.

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Cardiology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


The bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO) in the human coronary circulation at rest and after acetylcholine (ACH)-induced vasodilation was investigated in 32 patients with angiographically normal coronary arteries. The effects of intracoronary L-NG monomethyl arginine (L-NMMA) were investigated at rest and after ACH, sodium nitroprusside, and adenosine. L-NMMA (64 mumol/min) increased resting coronary vascular resistance by 22% (P < 0.001), reduced distal epicardial coronary artery diameter by 12.6% (P < 0.001), and inhibited ACH-induced coronary epicardial and microvascular vasodilation. These effects were reversed with intracoronary L-arginine. L-NMMA did not inhibit dilation in response to sodium nitroprusside and adenosine. 23 patients were exposed to one or more coronary risk factors. The vasoconstrictor effect of L-NMMA on the epicardial and microvessels was greater in patients free of risk factors: Coronary vascular resistance was 36% higher in patients without risks, compared to 17% higher in patients with risks (P < 0.05). Both epicardial and microvascular dilator effects of ACH were greater in patients without risk factors, and the inhibition of these effects by L-NMMA was also greater in patients without risk factors. Thus: (a) NO contributes importantly to resting epicardial and coronary microvascular tone, (b) coronary vascular dilation in response to ACH is predominantly due to increased production of NO, and

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