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J Invest Surg. 1994 Jan-Feb;7(1):3-16.

Microvascular dysfunction in postischemic skeletal muscle.

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Department of PhyP6ology, Louisiana State University Medical Center, School of Medicine, Shreveport 71130.


In recent years, considerable research efforts have been directed at elucidating the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiologic alterations associated with reperfusion (reoxygenation) of ischemic (hypoxic) skeletal muscle. This intensive effort has led to the accumulation of a large body of evidence supporting the concept that reactive oxygen metabolites, generated at the onset of reperfusion, initiate the formation and release of proinflammatory agents, which subsequently attract and activate granulocytes. The activated neutrophils adhere to the microvascular endothelium, extravasate, and release cytotoxic oxidants and hydrolytic enzymes. As a consequence of these pathologic events, vascular permeability and transcapillary fluid filtration are increased and the no-reflow phenomenon (ie, some capillaries fail to reperfuse upon reinstitution of blood flow) becomes apparent. These microvascular alterations may be of considerable functional importance since the marked accumulation of fluid in the interstitial spaces, coupled with the incomplete and maldistributed blood flow, increases the functional diffusion path length for nutrients. Thus cellular nutrition is limited during reperfusion, which in turn impairs the functional recovery of postischemic muscles. Moreover, the infiltrating neutrophils are able to direct a focussed attack on myocytes, thereby exacerbating contractile dysfunction and tissue injury during reperfusion. These observations indicate that alterations in the microcirculation play a critical role in the genesis of ischemia/reperfusion injury in skeletal muscle. This review summarizes the evidence we have accumulated in support of the view that reactive oxygen metabolites and neutrophils contribute to production of postischemic microvascular dysfunction and describes the experimental models we have used to examine the mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of ischemia and reperfusion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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