Background - Experimental hypercholesterolemia (HC) impairs intramyocardial microvascular function. However, whether this is associated with alterations in microvascular architecture remained unknown. Using a novel 3D micro-CT scanner, we tested the hypothesis that HC is associated with an alteration in the microvascular architecture. Methods and Results - Pigs were euthanized after 12 weeks of either normal (n=6) or 2% HC (n=6) diet. The hearts were excised and the coronary arteries injected with a radiopaque contrast material. Myocardial samples were scanned with micro-CT, and 3D images were reconstructed with 21-μm cubic voxels. The myocardium was tomographically subdivided into subepicardium and subendocardium, and microvessels (<500 μm in diameter) were counted in situ within each region. In the subendocardium of HC pigs, the intramyocardial density of microvessels was significantly higher than in normal animals (1221.4±199.7 versus 758.3±90.8 vessels/cm3, P<0.05) because of an increase in the number of microvessels <200 μm in diameter (1214.4±199.7 versus 746.6±101.5 vessels/cm3, P<0.05). The subepicardial vascular density was similar in both groups. Conclusions - HC has differential effects on the spatial density of the subendocardial microvasculature that may play a role in regulation and/or spatial distribution of myocardial blood flow. This study also demonstrates the feasibility of studying myocardial microvascular architecture with micro-CT in pathophysiological states.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)