Background. To characterize the impact of brain death (BD) on endothelial dysfunction after cardiac transplantation we investigated coronary circulation and vasomotor function in a canine model. Methods. Left ventricular pressure-volume data (conductance catheter) and coronary blood flow (CBF) were monitored continuously. Endothelium-dependent vasodilatation after acetylcholine and endothelium-independent vasodilation after sodium nitroprusside were assessed before and 3 hr after BD induction (inflation of a subdural balloon). Results. BD led to an initial hyperdynamic r eaction with significant (P<0.05) increase of CBF. After 3 hr, CBF decreased significantly (P<0.05). Although before BD, application of acetylcholine led to a monophasic vasodilatative response, after BD a short mild vasodilatation was followed by a longer vasoconstriction. Endothelium-independent vasodilatation remained unchanged. Conclusions. BD affects coronary circulation by two means: (1) impairment of CBF to decrease in parallel in afterload with consecutive hemodynamic deterioration and (2) severe endothelial dysfunction that may be a contributing factor to posttransplant outcome.
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