Flow control among microvessels coordinated by intercellular conduction

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Science  14 Nov 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4778, pp. 868-870
DOI: 10.1126/science.3775368


Optimal distribution of blood flow requires coordination of vasodilation among resistance vessels. During hyperemia, blood vessels dilate upstream from the initiating stimulus. Spreading vasodilation independent of flow changes has not been previously demonstrated. In the present study, iontophoresis of acetylcholine adjacent to single hamster cheek pouch arterioles in situ (diameter, 20 to 37 micrometers) induced a rapid bidirectional dilation that was not attenuated when blood flow was eliminated with vascular occlusion. This finding indicates that a vasodilatory stimulus is conducted along the arteriole and demonstrates the existence of a mechanism of intercellular communication that is capable of coordinating diameter changes among resistance vessels.