The role of nitric oxide in basal vasomotor tone and stimulated endothelium-dependent dilations in the coronary arteries in chronically instrumented awake dogs was studied by examining the consequences of inhibiting endogenous nitric oxide formation with the specific inhibitor of nitric oxide formation, NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA). In four awake dogs, coronary dimension crystals were chronically implanted on the circumflex artery for the measurement of epicardial coronary diameter, and Doppler flow probes were implanted for quantitation of phasic coronary blood flow (vasomotion of distal regulatory resistance vessels). Basal epicardial coronary diameter, acetylcholine-stimulated endothelium-dependent dilation, and flow-induced endothelium-dependent dilation of the epicardial arteries and phasic blood flow were recorded before, and after 5, 15, 50, and 120 mg/kg of L-NMMA. L-NMMA induced a dose-related increase in basal epicardial coronary vasomotor tone. There was an accompanying increase in aortic pressure and a decrease in heart rate. At doses greater than or equal to 50 mg/kg, rest phasic coronary blood flow was also decreased. Left ventricular end-diastolic pressure and contractility were not significantly changed. In contrast, the flow-induced or acetylcholine-stimulated endothelium-dependent responses were attenuated only after infusion of the highest does of L-NMMA (120 mg/kg). The changes in the basal vasomotor tone and acetylcholine-stimulated endothelium-dependent responses returned towards the control states in the presence of L-arginine (660 mg/kg). These data support the view that nitric oxide plays a significant role in modulating basal vasomotion and endothelial-dependent dilation stimulated by acetylcholine or increase in blood flow in epicardial coronary arteries and also influence the regulation of coronary blood flow during physiologic conditions.
A Chu, D E Chambers, C C Lin, W D Kuehl, R M Palmer, S Moncada, F R Cobb