Background: Postconditioning with multiple very short coronary occlusions immediately after prolonged ischemia is a new endogenous mechanism for protection of the ischemic heart. We tested whether postconditioning is effective in limiting infarct size in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.
Methods: Male rabbits were fed a cholesterol-enriched diet for 6 weeks. Animals were subjected to 30 min of regional ischemia of the heart and 3h of reperfusion with the following additional interventions: Control group no additional intervention, ischemic preconditioning (IPC) group to two cycles of 5 min ischemia separated by 10 min reperfusion before the index ischemia, 6/10 IPostC group to six cycles of 10s ischemia separated by 10s reperfusion and 4/30 IPostC group to four cycles of 30s ischemia separated by 30s reperfusion immediately after the end of the index ischemia. In a second series of experiments the same interventions were applied to animals fed with a normal diet. Infarct size (I) was determined by triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining.
Results: The I/R in hypercholesterolemic rabbits was 55.2+/-5.9% in Control, 17.9+/-4.2% in IPC (P<0.01 versus Control), 63.4+/-4.8% in 6/10 IPostC and 55.6+/-8.2% in 4/30 IPostC (P=NS between them and the Control group). In the normal diet rabbits, the I/R was 48.2+/-4.3% in Control, 15.1+/-2.1% in IPC, 20.4+/-2.9% in 6/10 IPostC (P<0.01 versus Control) and 45.1+/-8.9% in 4/30 IPostC (P=NS versus Control). Blood cholesterol levels were increased and atheromatic lesions were present in the first series.
Conclusion: Postconditioning is ineffective in limiting the infarct size in rabbits with hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis while preconditioning continued to be effective under the same conditions.