Sex differences in vascular reactivity of coronary artery bypass graft conduits

Heart Vessels. 2020 Mar;35(3):422-431. doi: 10.1007/s00380-019-01508-9. Epub 2019 Oct 1.


Females have increase in-hospital mortality and poorer outcomes following coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Biological differences in the reactivity of the graft conduits to circulating catecholamine may contribute to this sex difference. This study examined sex differences in the vasoconstrictor responses of internal mammary artery (IMA) and saphenous vein (SV) conduits to phenylephrine (PE) and endothelin-1 (ET-1). Functional IMA and SV were obtained from 78 male and 50 female patients undergoing CABG (67.7 ± 11 and 69 ± 10 years, respectively) and subjected to the following experimental conditions. (1) Concentration response curves for PE and ET-1 were generated in an intact IMA and SV and endothelium denuded IMA segments, (2) in the presence of the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor (L-NAME) or the cyclooxygenase inhibitor (indomethacin) in an endothelium-intact IMA and (3) the activity state (abundance and phosphorylation) of the α1-adrenergic receptor was investigated using Phos-tag™ western blot analysis. (1) Compared to male, female IMA and SV were hypersensitive to PE but not ET-1 (p < 0.05). The female IMA hypersensitivity response to PE was abolished following endothelial denudation, (2) persisted in the presence of L-NAME but was abolished in the presence of indomethacin and (3) there was no sex differences in the abundance and phosphorylation of the α1-adrenergic receptor in IMA. Female IMA and SV graft conduits are hypersensitive to α1-adrenergic stimuli. This endothelial cyclooxygenase pathway-mediated hypersensitivity may produce excessive IMA and SV graft constriction in females administered catecholamines and could contribute to their poorer CABG outcomes.

Keywords: Endothelin-1; Hypersensitivity and vascular endothelium; Internal mammary artery; Phenylephrine.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coronary Artery Bypass*
  • Endothelin-1 / pharmacology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammary Arteries / drug effects*
  • Mammary Arteries / metabolism
  • Mammary Arteries / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenylephrine / pharmacology*
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1 / metabolism
  • Saphenous Vein / drug effects*
  • Saphenous Vein / metabolism
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery
  • Sex Factors
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting*
  • Vasoconstriction / drug effects*
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology*


  • ADRB1 protein, human
  • Endothelin-1
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Phenylephrine
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases