Microvascular pressures and resistances in the left ventricular subepicardium and subendocardium

W M Chilian
Circulation Research 1991, 69 (3): 561-70
These experiments tested the hypothesis that differences in the distribution of subepicardial and subendocardial microvascular resistances may alter the transmural distributions of microvascular pressures. Isolated blood- and physiological saline-perfused porcine hearts were surgically incised to enable exposure of the subendocardial and subepicardial microcirculations. Microvascular pressures were measured during cardiac arrest and maximal vasodilation at various perfusion pressures to formulate relations between perfusion pressure and microvascular pressure in the different subendocardial (both free wall and papillary muscle) and subepicardial segments. Measurements of arteriolar and venular pressures in both myocardial regions were performed in comparably sized vessels (80-120 microns in diameter). At a coronary perfusion pressure of 100 mm Hg, subendocardial arteriolar and venular pressures were 60 +/- 4 and 33 +/- 3 mm Hg, respectively. In contrast, at the same coronary perfusion pressure, arteriolar and venular pressures in the subepicardial microcirculation averaged 80 +/- 6 and 22 +/- 3 mm Hg, respectively (p less than 0.05 versus subendocardium). At all levels of coronary perfusion pressure, arteriolar pressures were significantly lower in the subendocardium than in the subepicardium (p less than 0.05). Venular pressures were also higher in the subendocardial microcirculation than in the subepicardial microcirculation at all but the lowest perfusion pressure (p less than 0.05). The relative distribution of resistances in arteries, microvessels, and veins was also different between the subepicardium and subendocardium. Specifically, in the subendocardium, arterial and venous resistances were higher, percentage-wise, but microvascular resistance was proportionately lower than that in the subepicardium (p less than 0.05). From these data, it is concluded that the distribution of microvascular resistances and pressures is different during maximal vasodilation in the subepicardial and subendocardial microcirculations of the left ventricle. It is also speculated that differences in autoregulatory capacity and vulnerability to ischemia may be partially related to unequal distribution of microvascular resistances across the wall of the left ventricle.

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