Dynamic regulation of atrial coronary blood flow in healthy adult pigs

Kelly A. van Bragt, Hussein M. Nasrallah, Marion Kuiper, Arne van Hunnik, Nico H. L. Kuijpers, Ulrich Schotten, Sander Verheule*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND There are several indications for a mismatch between atrial oxygen supply and demand during atrial fibrillation (AF), but atrial coronary flow regulation has not been investigated extensively. OBJECTIVE The purpose of this study was to characterize the dynamic regulation of atrial coronary flow in pigs. METHODS In anesthetized open-chest pigs, Doppler flow probes were placed around left atrial (LA) and left ventricular (LV) branches of the circumflex artery. Pressures and work indices were measured simultaneously. Systolic and diastolic flow contribution, flow response kinetics, and relationship between pressures, work, and flow were investigated during sinus rhythm, atrial pacing, and acute AF. RESULTS During atrial systole, LA flow decreased. Only 2% of total LA flow occurred during atrial systole. Pacing with 2:1 AV block and infusion of acetylcholine revealed that atrial contraction itself impeded atrial coronary flow. The response to sudden changes in heart rate was slower in LA compared to LV. Both LA and LV vascular conductance were positively correlated with work. After the cessation of acute AF, the LA showed a more pronounced phase of supranormal vascular conductance than the LV, indicating a period of atrial reactive hyperemia. CONCLUSION In healthy adult pigs, atrial coronary flow is impeded by atrial contraction. Although atrial coronary blood flow is positively correlated with atrial external work, it reacts more slowly to changes in rate than ventricular flow. The occurrence of a pronounced hyperemic phase after acute AF supports the notion of a significant supply-demand mismatch during AF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-1000
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • Atrial coronary flow
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Atrial contraction
  • Vascular function
  • Ischemia


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