Remodeling of small intramyocardial coronary arteries distal to a severe epicardial coronary artery stenosis

Huashan Hong, Sergei Aksenov, Xiaoming Guan, John T. Fallon, David Waters, Chunguang Chen

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Objective - Impaired coronary blood flow (CF) or flow reserve with incomplete and delayed recovery of left ventricular (LV) function after revascularization is common in severe ischemic LV dysfunction. The underlying mechanism is not fully known. We studied structural changes of small intramyocardial coronary arteries (SIMCAs) in a pig model of chronic coronary stenosis, testing the hypothesis that microvascular remodeling develops distally to a severe epicardial coronary artery stenosis. Methods and Results - A total of 24 pigs were studied in 3 groups. Left anterior descending coronary stenosis was created to reduce CF by a mean of ≈30%, producing severe regional systolic dysfunction without infarction. The stenosis was maintained for 7 days in 6 pigs (Group 1) and for 4 weeks in 12 pigs (Group 2). The control group (Group 3) consisted of 6 pigs with the same surgical procedures but without stenosis. The wall thickness (WTa) and lumen (L) diameter of SIMCA were measured, and the ratio of WTa/L and lumen area/total vessel area (% lumen) were calculated. The composition of the arterial wall was studied with cell proliferation markers Ki67 and BrdU. The immediate reduction in CF after the creation of the stenosis was similar in both study groups, but after the first week, CF decreased significantly (P<0.05) when the stenosis was maintained (group 2). The left anterior descending stenosis caused regional LV dysfunction in all pigs (groups 1 and 2). After 4 weeks of stenosis with chronic myocardial hibernation (group 2), but not after 1 week (group 1), WTa and WTa/L increased and L decreased significantly in the chronic hibernating region located distally to the stenosis, compared with both the control (group 3) and the normal region in the same pig. The mean % lumen of SIMCA per pig correlated with the CF reduction (r=0.92, P<0.001) and with myocardial fibrosis (r=0.82, P<0.01) in the 4-week stenosis group. Ki67- and BrdU-positive cells were increased in the wall of SIMCA in Group 1 and 2 compared with the control group (P<0.01 for each). The proliferated cells were stained positively with smooth muscle α-actin antibody. ConclusionIn the chronic ischemic, hibernating myocardial region distal to a flow-limiting epicardial coronary stenosis, the small intramyocardial coronary arteries undergo remodeling, with an increase in wall thickness and a decrease in lumen. These structural changes may further restrict blood flow to ischemic myocardium and may account for the pathophysiologic impairment of CF or flow reserve after revascularization, which leads to delayed or incomplete recovery of myocardial function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2059-2065
Number of pages7
JournalArteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2002


  • Coronary disease
  • Hibernation
  • Ischemia
  • Microvascular disease


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