Structural and electrophysiological changes in atherosclerotic radial artery grafts account for impairment of vessel reactivity
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To evaluate the potential impact of using atherosclerotic radial artery (RA) conduits as grafts in coronary artery bypass surgery, we examined the vasoconstrictor and electrophysiological properties of mildly and severely atherosclerotic RAs. Vasoconstrictor responses were measured in cannulated and pressurized (85mmHg) RA segments and K(+) currents were measured in single smooth muscle cells. In the cannulated and pressurized vessel preparation, the pressure-induced dilation was attenuated in both the mildly and severely atherosclerotic RAs when compared to normal samples. Contractile responses to potassium chloride, thromboxane A(2) (TXA(2)) analog U-46619 and to E-ring and F-ring isoprostanes were also attenuated. Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) from atherosclerotic arteries manifested significantly greater K(+) current density (76.6+/-22.4pA/pF) when compared to normal SMCs (18.6+/-3.3pA/pF). Our results show that vasocontractile properties of both mildly and severely atherosclerotic arteries are reduced when compared to normal RAs. A possible explanation for this could be decreased vascular compliance due to arterial stiffening and a substantial augmentation of K(+) currents in sclerotic smooth muscle cells. We conclude that caution should be exercised when using RA grafts with atherosclerotic lesions since they could significantly impact the clinical outcome of CABG surgery.
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