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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1994 Feb;149(2 Pt 1):423-9.

Pulmonary vascular abnormalities and ventilation-perfusion relationships in mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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Department of Medicine (Servei de Pneumologia), Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain.


Morphologic changes in pulmonary muscular arteries may modify the mechanisms that regulate the pulmonary vascular tone and contribute to maintaining an adequate ventilation-perfusion (VA/Q) matching in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To analyze the relationships between the abnormalities of pulmonary muscular arteries and the degree of VA/Q inequality, and to assess the effect of these abnormalities on the changes in VA/Q relationships induced by oxygen breathing, we studied a group of patients with mild COPD undergoing resective lung surgery. According to the degree of airflow obstruction and the increase in VA/Q mismatch produced by 100% O2 breathing (delta logSD Q), patients were divided into three groups: (A) patients with normal lung function, (B) patients with airflow obstruction and a high response to oxygen (delta logSD Q > 0.4), and (C) patients with airflow obstruction and a low response to oxygen (delta logSD Q < 0.4). Pulmonary arteries in Groups B and C showed narrower lumens and thicker walls than in Group A. These morphologic changes were produced mainly by an enlargement of the intimal layer and were more pronounced in Group C than in Group B. The assessment of intimal area as a function of artery diameter showed that the increase in intima in Group C took place predominantly in arteries with small diameters (< 500 microns). The mean intimal area on each subject correlated with both the PaO2 value (r = -0.46, p < 0.05) and the overall index of VA/Q mismatching (r = 0.51, p < 0.05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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