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Patients with heart disease are frequently treated with supplemental oxygen. Although oxygen can exhibit vasoactive properties in many vascular beds, its effects on the coronary circulation have not been fully characterized. To examine whether supplemental oxygen administration affects coronary blood flow (CBF) in a clinical setting, we measured in 18 patients with stable coronary heart disease the effects of breathing 100% oxygen by face mask for 15 min on CBF (via coronary Doppler flow wire), conduit coronary diameter, CBF response to intracoronary infusion of the endothelium-dependent dilator ACh and to the endothelium-independent dilator adenosine, as well as arterial and coronary venous concentrations of the nitric oxide (NO) metabolites nitrotyrosine, NO(2)(-), and NO(3)(-). Relative to breathing room air, breathing of 100% oxygen increased coronary resistance by approximately 40%, decreased CBF by approximately 30%, increased the appearance of nitrotyrosine in coronary venous plasma, and significantly blunted the CBF response to ACh. Oxygen breathing elicited these changes without affecting the diameter of large-conduit coronary arteries, coronary venous concentrations of NO(2)(-) and NO(3)(-), or the coronary vasodilator response to adenosine. Administering supplemental oxygen to patients undergoing cardiac catheterization substantially increases coronary vascular resistance by a mechanism that may involve oxidative quenching of NO within the coronary microcirculation.
Pathological formation of reactive oxygen species within the coronary circulation has been hypothesized to mediate some clinical manifestations of ischemic heart disease (IHD) by interfering with physiological regulation of coronary tone. To determine the degree to which coronary tone responds to acute changes in ambient levels of oxidants and antioxidants in vivo in a clinical setting, we measured the effect of an acute oxidative stress (breathing 100% oxygen) on coronary capacitance artery diameter (quantitative angiography) and blood flow velocity through the coronary microcirculation (intracoronary Doppler ultrasonography) before and after treatment with the antioxidant vitamin C (3-g intravenous infusion) in 12 IHD patients undergoing a clinical coronary interventional procedure. Relative to room air breathing, 100% oxygen breathing promptly reduced coronary blood flow velocity by 20% and increased coronary resistance by 23%, without significantly changing the diameter of capacitance arteries. Vitamin C administration promptly restored coronary flow velocity and resistance to a slightly suprabasal level, and it prevented the reinduction of coronary constriction with rechallenge with 100% oxygen. This suggests that acute oxidative stress produces prompt and substantial changes in coronary resistance and blood flow in a clinical setting in patients with IHD, and it suggests that these changes are mediated by vitamin C-quenchable substances acting on the coronary microcirculation. This observation may have relevance for clinical practice.