Tissue oxygen gradients were examined in the saline-perfused rat heart by NADH fluorescence photography. In high flow hypoxia, where the coronary flow was maintained and the arterial oxygen tension was gradually reduced, oxygen extraction was virtually complete before oxygen consumption was significantly diminished. Inadequate oxygen delivery resulted in a well defined pattern of anoxic zones. The anoxic zones were several hundred microns in width, an order of magnitude greater than intercapillary distances. In low flow hypoxia (ischemia), where the arterial oxygen tension remained at its control value and the coronary flow was diminished, anoxic zones also developed, following the same pattern as in high flow hypoxia. However, in ischemia, the anoxic areas developed while the effluent oxygen tension was significantly greater than zero. Whereas respiratory acidosis between pH 7.3 and 6.9 resulted in vasodilation, below pH 6.8 there was a marked increase in vascular resistance. Anoxic zones appeared despite only a slight change in effluent oxygen tension from the control. In high flow hypoxia, ischemia, and acidosis-induced ischemia, the anoxic zones disappeared when control perfusion conditions were restored. The data demonstrate that tissue oxygen gradients are very steep in the hypoxic state, so that ischemia and hypoxia result in in discrete heterogeneous areas of anoxic tissue bounded by sharp areas where the oxygen supply is sufficient to maintain normal mitochondrial oxidative function. In these states in which oxygen delivery is less than oxygen demand, coronary perfusion appears to be regulated at the level of the arterioles rather than the capillaries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine