Transmural difference in coronary arteriolar dilation to adenosine: effect of luminal pressure and K(ATP) channels. Academic Article uri icon


  • Coronary blood flow in the subendocardium is preferentially increased by adenosine but is redistributed to the subepicardium during ischemia in association with coronary pressure reduction. The mechanism for this flow redistribution remains unclear. Since adenosine is released during ischemia, it is possible that the coronary microcirculation exhibits a transmural difference in vasomotor responsiveness to adenosine at various intraluminal pressures. Although the ATP-sensitive K(+) (K(ATP)) channel has been shown to be involved in coronary arteriolar dilation to adenosine, its role in the transmural adenosine response remains elusive. To address these issues, pig subepicardial and subendocardial arterioles (60-120 micrometer) were isolated, cannulated, and pressurized to 20, 40, 60, or 80 cmH(2)O without flow for in vitro study. At each of these pressures, vessels developed basal tone and dilated concentration dependently to adenosine and the K(ATP) channel opener pinacidil. Subepicardial and subendocardial arterioles dilated equally to adenosine and pinacidil at 60 and 80 cmH(2)O luminal pressure. At lower luminal pressures (i.e., 20 and 40 cmH(2)O), vasodilation in both vessel types was enhanced. Enhanced vasodilatory responses were not affected by removal of endothelium but were abolished by the K(ATP) channel inhibitor glibenclamide. In a manner similar to reducing pressure, a subthreshold dose of pinacidil potentiated vasodilation to adenosine. In contrast to adenosine, dilation of coronary arterioles to sodium nitroprusside was independent of pressure changes. These results indicate that coronary microvascular dilation to adenosine is enhanced at lower intraluminal pressures by selective activation of smooth muscle K(ATP) channels. Since microvascular pressure has been shown to be consistently lower in the subendocardium than in the subepicardium, it is likely that the inherent pressure gradient in the coronary microcirculation across the ventricular wall may be an important determinant of transmural flow in vivo during resting conditions or under metabolic stress with adenosine release.

published proceedings

  • Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, C., Hein, T. W., & Kuo, L.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, C||Hein, TW||Kuo, L

publication date

  • December 2000