Basic concepts of the microcirculation

Cor de Wit*

*Corresponding author for this work


The coronary circulation can be roughly divided into two compartments, the conducting arteries and the microcirculation. While epicardial vessels provide conduction pathways which exhibit very low resistance even during high flow, the microcirculation exhibits resistance within small arteries and arterioles and provides a large area for the exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nutrients within the capillaries. The regulation of flow is achieved at the site of the microcirculation by active dilatory mechanisms. A prerequisite for substantial dilation is the presence of constriction (vascular tone) which is generated by the vessel’s response to transmural pressure differences and concomitant generation of wall tension (myogenic tone). The active dilatory mechanisms consist of metabolic pathways generated by the action of the cardiomyocytes as well as dilator signals originating in endothelial cells. They produce in response to different stimuli endothelium-dependent dilation which is crucial for the enhancement of coronary flow during enhanced oxygen demands. These mechanisms include generation of nitric oxide as well as initiating smooth muscle hyperpolarisation through pathways that are not fully resolved yet but include release of potassium ions, hydrogen peroxide, and epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EDHF). In addition, direct current transfer from endothelial cells to smooth muscle through myoendothelial gap junctions contributes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicrocirculation : From Bench to Bedside
Number of pages18
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Publication date04.11.2019
ISBN (Print)9783030281984
ISBN (Electronic)9783030281991
Publication statusPublished - 04.11.2019

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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