Local and neurohumoral control of coronary blood flow

  • M. Krajcar
  • Gerd Heusch


The powerful local metabolic regulation adjusting coronary blood flow to myocardial oxygen consumption under normal conditions is beyond doubt. However, despite substantial experimental efforts the responsible mediators are still largely unknown. Adenosine, a purported mediator of local metabolic control of coronary blood flow, is probably only involved in transient flow adaptations, but not in steady-state coronary autoregulation. Even below the autoregulatory range a substantial vasodilator reserve persists. Recruitment of such vasodilator reserve results in improved regional myocardial blood flow and attenuated regional ischemic dysfunction.

β-adrenergic coronary dilation is of minor functional importance, α-adrenergic coronary constriction acts to attenuate increases in coronary blood flow during sympathetic activation under normal conditions, such that myocardial oxygen extraction increases to match the increased oxygen consumption, α-adrenergic coronary constriction remains operative in ischemic myocardium, thus precipitating or contributing to acute myocardial ischemia during sympathetic activation and exercise in experimental animals as well as in patients with stable angina. The vagal transmitter acetylcholine — upon exogenous intracoronary infusion — induces critical constriction of epicardial coronary arteries with endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis. However, a vagal initiation of coronary spasm or myocardial ischemia has not been documented so far. Similarly, peptide hormones/transmitters such as NPY, vasopressin, and angiotensin can induce myocardial ischemia upon exogenous administration. Their pathophysiological role in myocardial ischemia and reperfusion, however, remains to be established.

Key words

Coronary vasomotor tone myocardial ischemia coronary reserve α-adrenoceptors angiotensin ACE-inhibitors 


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Copyright information

© Dr. Dietrich Steinkopff Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Darmstadt 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Krajcar
    • 1
  • Gerd Heusch
    • 1
  1. 1.Abteilung für Pathophysiologie, Zentrum für Innere MedizinUniversitätsklinikum EssenEssenGermany

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