Hypothermia during reperfusion limits 'no-reflow' injury in a rabbit model of acute myocardial infarction

Cardiovasc Res. 2003 Sep 1;59(3):715-22. doi: 10.1016/s0008-6363(03)00456-5.


Objective: Reflow following coronary artery occlusion is an important predictor of clinical outcome. This study tests the effects of regional hypothermia, initiated late during ischemia and maintained for 2 h of reperfusion, on the no-reflow phenomenon.

Methods: Anesthetized, open-chest New Zealand White rabbits received 30 min of coronary artery occlusion and 3 h reperfusion. Regional myocardial hypothermia (H, n=14), starting 10 min before reperfusion and continuing for 2 h of reperfusion, was compared with normothermia (N, n=14). Regional myocardial blood flow (microspheres) was measured during occlusion and at the end of reperfusion. The anatomic zone of no-reflow (thioflavin S in vivo injection) and infarct size were measured in the ischemic risk region at the end of the study.

Results: Myocardial temperature in H rabbits was decreased by 5.0+/-0.4 degrees C from baseline (37.1+/-0.2 degrees C) and remained about 32 degrees C during the cooling phase, returning to 36.0+/-0.3 degrees C at 3 h. N hearts remained within 0.2 degrees C of baseline (37.3+/-0.1 degrees C) throughout. Both groups were equally ischemic during occlusion, but at the end of reperfusion reflow to the previously ischemic zone was significantly higher in H, 77+/-5% of normal blood flow versus 36+/-4% in N (P=0.0001). The zone of anatomic no-reflow was significantly smaller in H, 11+/-3% of the ischemic risk zone versus 37+/-3% in N (P=0.0001), and was proportionally smaller when represented as a percent of the necrotic zone 36+/-6% compared with 75+/-5% in N. Infarct size, expressed as a percent of the ischemic risk zone was significantly smaller in H vs. N hearts (27+/-4 and 51+/-5%, P=0.0000).

Conclusion: This study shows that hypothermic therapy initiated late during ischemia and continuing for several hours of reperfusion significantly improves reflow and reduces macroscopic zones of no-reflow and necrosis in this model. The improvement in reflow was greater than would be expected in the H group compared with N, based on the extent of necrosis. As reflow is a predictor of outcome, this intervention may have clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure
  • Coronary Circulation
  • Heart Rate
  • Hypothermia, Induced*
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Necrosis
  • Rabbits
  • Regional Blood Flow