Objectives.: The purpose of this study was to use intravascular ultrasound to determine the morphologic appearance of the coronary arteries, relating the absence, presence and extent of atherosclerosis to the response of the coronary arteries to acetylcholine infusion. Background.: Endothelial function plays a major role in the pathophysiology of myocardial ischemia and angina pectoris. The response of the coronary arteries to selective infusion of acetylcholine has been used to examine endothelial function, with vasoconstriction occurring in the absence of intact endothelial function. Vasoconstriction to acetylcholine infusion in humans without overt coronary artery disease has been attributed to early atherosclerosis not detected by coronary angiography. Methods.: Twenty-nine patients without overt coronary artery disease underwent selective coronary angiography and selective intracoronary infusion of increasing concentrations of acetylcholine (10-6, 10-5 and 10-4 mol/liter), followed by intravascular ultrasound imaging. Results.: The response of the coronary arteries to acetylcholine infusion was not dependent on the absence or presence of atherosclerotic plaque, as detected by intravascular ultrasound. The percent change in epicardial coronary artery diameter during acetylcholine infusion versus baseline was -14 ± 28% (mean ± SD) in the seven patients with no visible atherosclerosis on intravascular ultrasound versus -9 ± 20% in the 22 patients with visible atherosclerosis on intravascular ultrasound (p = NS, confidence interval -14% to 25%). There was a greater vasoconstrictive response to acetylcholine infusion in patients with risk factors for coronary artery disease than in those without risk factors (p = 0.003). Conclusions.: The vasoreactive response to acetylcholine is not necessarily dependent on ultrasound detection of the presence or absence of atherosclerosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine