Coronary conductance in the normal development of sheep during the perinatal period

Matthew W. Hagen, Samantha Louey, Sarah M. Alaniz, Laura Brown, Jonathan Lindner, Sonnet S. Jonker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Birth is associated with substantial shifts in cardiovascular physiology. Little is known about coronary vascular adaptations during this period. We used fetal and neonatal lambs to measure coronary function at late gestation (92% of term) and shortly after birth (5-6 days postnatal age). In each animal we measured unanesthetized myocardial perfusion and oxygen delivery using a circumflex artery flow probe. We used inflatable occluders and adenosine to determine coronary conductance and flow reserve. In a subset of animals, we used myocardial contrast echocardiography (MCE, anesthetized) to assess its utility as a tool for studying changes in regional myocardial perfusion in normal development. Separate age-matched animals were instrumented with aortic and coronary sinus sampling catheters to determine myocardial oxygen extraction (unanesthetized). With an average of 17 days of developmental time separating our neonatal and fetal cohorts we found that heart-to-body weight ratio was significantly greater in neonates than fetuses. In resting animals, we found significant decreases in weight-normalized perfusion of, and oxygen delivery to, neonatal relative to fetal myocardium. Similar results were seen when measuring baseline MCE-derived perfusion. Pressure-flow relationship studies revealed lower baseline and maximal coronary conductance in neonates than fetuses, with similar coronary flow reserve between groups. There was greater oxygen extraction in neonates than fetuses. Combined analysis of oxygen extraction with coronary flow suggested greater oxygen consumption by the fetal than neonatal myocardium. We conclude that, during the immediate perinatal period, cardiac growth outpaces coronary microvascular growth resulting in lower capacity for microvascular perfusion in the early neonate.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)e15523
    JournalPhysiological reports
    Issue number23
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


    • birth
    • coronary reserve
    • myocardial perfusion
    • parturition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Physiology (medical)


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