Smoking Impairs Endothelial Function in Human Saphenous Vein in an Ex Vivo Model

      The aim of this ex vivo experimental study was to assess the effect of smoking, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension on endothelial function in human saphenous vein, a commonly used conduit for coronary and peripheral arterial bypass surgery. A segment of long saphenous vein harvested during infrainguinal bypass surgery was mounted in an organ bath for isometric tension studies. Vein rings were precontracted to submaximal contraction with phenylephrine, followed by endothelium-dependent relaxation with acetylcholine. Long saphenous vein segments were collected from 26 patients, including five females, with a mean age of 66.4 years (range 48-92). Current smokers had impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation compared to ex- and nonsmokers (10.2%, n=13, vs. 32.9%, n=13; p<0.010). However, ex-smokers and nonsmokers did not have a significant difference in relaxant responses to acetylcholine (29.1%, n=8, vs. 24.6%, n=5; p=nonsignificant [ns]). Similarly, diabetic and nondiabetic patients did not show a significant difference in endothelium-dependent relaxation (23.1%, n=10, vs. 15.6%, n=16; p=ns). The relaxant responses in hypertensive and normotensive patients were not different (20.4%, n=12, vs. 22.5%, n=14; p=ns). Smoking has a deleterious effect on the endothelial function of saphenous vein, and smoking cessation may improve the long-term durability of saphenous vein used as a bypass graft in patients undergoing arterial reconstruction.
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