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J Am Soc Nephrol. 1998 Jun;9(6):1018-22.

Myocyte/capillary mismatch in the heart of uremic patients.

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Department of Pathology, University of Heidelberg, Germany.


Experiments indicate that capillary density is reduced in the hypertrophied left ventricle of rats with subtotal nephrectomy compared to control rats with similar BP and left ventricular hypertrophy, suggesting that in uremia, hypertrophying cardiomyocytes outgrow their capillary supply. No information on myocardial capillary supply in humans is currently available. The hearts of nine dialyzed patients, nine patients with essential hypertension, and 10 normotensive control subjects at postmortem were obtained. Subjects with stenosing coronary lesions and left ventricular pump failure were excluded. Special sampling procedures were used to exclude stereologic artefacts. Capillaries were specifically stained with ulex lectin and analyzed by stereologic techniques. Length density of myocardial capillaries (Lv; mm/mm3) was significantly (P < 0.001) lower in dialyzed patients (1483 +/- 238) than in patients with essential hypertension (1872 +/- 243) or in normotensive control patients (2898 +/- 456). In parallel, myocyte diameter and volume density of myocardial interstitial tissue were significantly (P < 0.001) increased in uremic patients compared to patients with essential hypertension and control patients, respectively. Diminished left ventricular capillary supply in renal failure must increase critical oxygen diffusion distance in the myocardium, thus exposing cardiomyocytes to the risk of hypoxia. It is unknown whether such reduced ischemia tolerance can be reversed by increasing oxygen supply (e.g., by reversing anemia).

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