Ethanol, wine, and experimental cardioprotection in ischemia/reperfusion: role of the prooxidant/antioxidant balance

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2004 Apr;6(2):431-8. doi: 10.1089/152308604322899503.


It is now well established that oxidative stress resulting from reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are generated in cardiac myocytes subjected to ischemia/reperfusion plays a causative role in the development of heart failure and may contribute to promote cell death. During the last decade, several groups have reported that, in animal models of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion, certain nutrients, including ethanol and nonethanolic components of wine, may have a specific protective effect on the myocardium, independent of the classical risk factors implicated in vascular atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Mechanisms through which the consumption of alcoholic beverages protects against ischemia-induced cardiac injury are still unknown. One major open question is whether ethanol and nonethanolic components of wine are cardioprotective, at least in part, by interfering with the myocardial prooxidant/antioxidant balance. Important concepts, such as cardiac preconditioning, are now entering the field of nutrition, and recent experimental evidence suggests that ethanol and/or nonethanolic components of wine might exert preconditioning effects in animal models of myocardial ischemia/reperfusion. There is no doubt that such an observation, if confirmed in human subjects, might open new perspectives in the prevention and treatment of ischemic coronary heart disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Heart / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Oxidants / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Wine*


  • Antioxidants
  • Oxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Ethanol