Coronary vasomotor response to acetylcholine relates to risk factors for coronary artery disease.
In animals, acetylcholine dilates normal arteries and produces vasoconstriction in the presence of hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, or atherosclerosis, reflecting endothelial cell dysfunction. In patients with angiographically smooth coronary arteries, acetylcholine has been reported to produce both vasodilation and constriction. To test the hypothesis that the acetylcholine response relates to risk factors for coronary artery disease, acetylcholine 10(-8) to 10(-6) M was infused into the left anterior descending or circumflex coronary artery, and diameter changes were assessed with quantitative angiography in 34 patients with angiographically smooth coronary arteries. The acetylcholine response ranged from +37% (dilation) to -53% (constriction) at the peak acetylcholine dose. All coronary arteries dilated in response to nitroglycerin (26 +/- 17%), suggesting an abnormality of endothelial function in the patients with a constrictor response to acetylcholine. By multiple stepwise regression analysis, serum cholesterol (p less than 0.01), male gender (p less than 0.001), family history (p less than 0.05), age (p less than 0.05), cholesterol level (p less than 0.01), and total number of risk factors (p less than 0.0001) were independently associated with the acetylcholine response. Thus, coronary risk factors are associated with loss of endothelium-dependent vasodilation. The development of vasoconstriction is likely to be an abnormality of endothelial function that precedes atherosclerosis or an early marker of atherosclerosis not detectable by angiography.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association