The Influence Of Epicardial Resistance On Microvascular Resistance Reserve

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2024 May 9:S0735-1097(24)07198-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2024.05.004. Online ahead of print.


Background: The optimal index of microvascular function should be specific for the microvascular compartment. Yet, coronary flow reserve (CFR), despite being widely used to diagnose coronary microvascular dysfunction (CMD), is influenced by both epicardial and microvascular resistance. Conversely, microvascular resistance reserve (MRR) adjusts for fractional flow reserve (FFR), and thus is theoretically independent of epicardial resistance.

Objectives: We tested the hypothesis that MRR, unlike CFR, is not influenced by increasing epicardial resistance, and thus is a more specific index of microvascular function.

Methods: In a cohort of 16 patients that had undergone proximal left anterior descending artery stenting, we created four grades of artificial stenosis (no stenosis, mild, moderate, and severe) using a coronary angioplasty balloon inflated to different degrees within the stent. For each stenosis grade, we calculated CFR and MRR using continuous thermodilution (64 measurements of each) in order to assess their response to changing epicardial resistance.

Results: Graded balloon inflation resulted in a significant sequential decrease in mean FFR (no stenosis: 0.82 ±0.05; mild: 0.72 ±0.04; moderate: 0.61 ±0.05; severe: 0.48 ±0.09, p<0.001). This translated into a linear decrease in mean hyperaemic coronary flow (no stenosis: 170.5 ±66.8 ml/min; mild: 149.8 ±58.8 ml/min; moderate: 124.4 ±53.0 ml/min; severe: 94.0 ±45.2 ml/min, p<0.001). CFR exhibited a marked linear decrease with increasing stenosis (no stenosis: 2.5 ±0.9; mild: 2.2 ±0.8; moderate: 1.8 ±0.7; severe: 1.4 ±0.6), corresponding to a decrease of 0.3 for a decrease in FFR of 0.1 (p<0.001). In contrast, MRR exhibited a negligible decrease across all stenosis grades (no stenosis: 3.0 ±1.0; mild: 3.0 ±1.0; moderate: 2.9 ±1.0; severe: 2.8 ±1.0), corresponding to a decrease of just 0.05 for a decrease in FFR of 0.1 (p<0.001).

Conclusion: MRR, unlike CFR, is minimally influenced by epicardial resistance, and thus should be considered the more specific index of microvascular function. This suggests that MRR can also reliably evaluate microvascular function in patients with significant epicardial disease.

Keywords: angina and nonobstructive coronary arteries; coronary flow reserve; coronary microvascular dysfunction; microvascular resistance reserve.