Our previous work showed that stress sensitized the vessels of cardiomyopathic hamsters (CMHs), but only hamsters in the lesion-forming period of their life. We hypothesized that we would find an interaction between stressor intensity and microvascular vulnerability.
Male CMHs at ages of 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 months were stressed with supine immobilization for five consecutive days. Stressor intensity was manipulated by immobilizing groups of CMHs at room temperature for 0 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours. CMHs were anesthetized and sacrificed 5 days after stress, and their hearts were perfused using a modified Langendorff system. Body weight changes and baseline coronary vascular resistance (CVR) were recorded, and CVR was also measured after coronary artery infusion of arginine vasopressin (AVP).
Stress produced no effect on coronary vasculature in 1.5-month-old CMHs. In 2.5-month-old CMHs, only the two highest-intensity stressors enhanced coronary reactivity to AVP. In 3.5-month-old CMHs, higher-intensity stressors produced a marginal AVP-induced increase in CVR; but this marginal increase was significantly lower than the increases seen with the two highest-stressor intensities in the 2.5-month-old CMHs.
The stress-induced coronary hyperreactivity to AVP seen in 2.5-month-old CMHs diminished when microvascular vulnerability was lower in 3.5-month-old CMHs. For 1.5-month-old CMHs, the resting CVR was extremely high, so that the addition of stress produced no further increase. Thus, stressor intensity interacted with microvascular vulnerability to alter the consequences of stress.