Myocardial ischemia/reperfusion-injury, a clinical view on a complex pathophysiological process

Int J Cardiol. 2005 Apr 20;100(2):179-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2004.04.013.


Myocardial infarction is the major cause of death in the world. Over the last two decades, coronary reperfusion therapy has become established for the management of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). However, restoration of blood flow to previously ischemic myocardium results in the so-called ischemia/reperfusion (IR)-injury. The different clinical manifestations of this injury include myocardial necrosis, arrhythmia, myocardial stunning and endothelial- and microvascular dysfunction including the no-reflow phenomenon. The pathogenesis of ischemia/reperfusion injury consists of many mechanisms. Recently, there's increasing evidence for an important role in IR-injury on hypercontracture induced by high levels of cytosolic calcium or by low concentrations of ATP. In the last years, many studies on experimental models were investigated, but the clinical trials confirming these effects remain spare. Recently, the beneficial effect of Na(+)/H(+)-exchange inhibitor cariporide and of the oxygen-derived free radical (ODFR) scavenger vitamin E on coronary bypass surgery-induced IR-injury were demonstrated. Also recently, the beneficial effect of allopurinol on the recovery of left ventricular function after rescue balloon-dilatation was demonstrated. The beneficial effect of magnesium and trimetazidine on IR-injury remains controversial. The beneficial effect of adenosine remains to be further confirmed. There's also increasing interest in agentia combining the property of upregulating NO-synthase (e.g. L-arginine) and restoring the balance between NO and free radicals (e.g. tetrahydrobiopterin). One of such agents could be folic acid. In this review article the authors give an overview of the recent insights concerning pathogenesis and therapeutic possibilities to prevent IR-induced injury.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Free Radicals
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / therapy


  • Free Radicals
  • Calcium