The effects of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) on heart rate, coronary flow, pressure development, and time to ischemic contracture were studied in the isolated, perfused rat heart. A bolus of CGRP (2640 pmols) caused significant increases in heart rate and coronary flow; these effects were sustained for at least five minutes after injection. The increase in coronary flow was independent of heart rate, since CGRP caused an increase in coronary flow in non-beating (potassium-arrested) hearts. The dose-response of CGRP was studied using five doses (65, 218, 658, 1320 and 2640 pmols) given as bolus injections. Although the increase in heart rate was apparently dose-dependent, significant increases above baseline were observed only with the two highest doses. In contrast, coronary flow increased significantly above baseline with the injection of all but the lowest dose of CGRP. Ten minutes after injection of CGRP, all hearts were made ischemic. The time to onset of ischemic contracture was approximately 11 minutes for those hearts that received 65 pmols CGRP; however, for those hearts receiving all other doses of CGRP, the time to onset of contracture was approximately 8 minutes. We conclude that CGRP significantly decreases the resistance of the coronary vascular bed, and that it may be an important regulator of regional blood flow in the heart.
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