In order to evaluate peripheral endothelial function in patients with vasospastic angina (VSA), we measured flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery in patients with VSA and compared it with FMD in patients without VSA. Endothelial dysfunction is considered one of the mechanisms underlying VSA. However, its exact role remains to be clarified. The study included 30 patients with positive spasm-provocational test results without evidence of significant coronary stenosis (VSA group) and 30 patients with negative spasm-provocational test results without evidence of significant coronary stenosis (control group). In each patient, brachial artery diameter responses to hyperemic flow and glyceryl trinitrate spray were measured using high-resolution ultrasound. The carotid intima-media thickness was also measured as a marker of systemic atherosclerosis. FMD was lower in the VSA group (4.8±0.5%) compared with the control group (9.4±0.7%, P < 0.0001). In the VSA group, FMD was not affected by coronary risk factors or the presence of atherosclerotic changes on coronary angiography. Glyceryl trinitrate-induced dilation did not differ between the two groups. The intima-media thickness was comparable between the VSA (0.85±0.04mm) and control groups (0.81±0.05mm). These findings indicated that peripheral endothelial function is impaired only in the VSA group, whereas the atherosclerotic changes were similar in the two groups. We conclude that endothelial dysfunction may be an independent factor responsible for the development of VSA.

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