Background and purpose: The type-5 PDE inhibitor vardenafil reduces myocardial infarct size in situ, following ischemia/reperfusion, when applied at reperfusion in animal models. Little is known about the underlying protective signaling. Here, we test whether vardenafil is protective in rat isolated hearts and in a cell model of calcium stress.
Experimental approach: Infarct size in rat isolated hearts was measured after a 30 min regional ischemia and 120 min reperfusion. Vardenafil (1 nM-1 microM) was infused during reperfusion. HL-1 cardiomyocytes were loaded with tetramethylrhodamine ethyl ester (TMRE), a fluorescent marker of mitochondrial membrane potential (psi m).
Key results: Vardenafil at reperfusion reduced infarct size as percentage of the ischemic zone from 45.8+/-2.0% in control hearts to 26.2+/-2.7% (P<0.001) only at 10 nM, whereas higher or lower dosages failed to protect. This protective effect was blocked by co-administration of either the GC inhibitor, 1H-(1,2,4)oxadiazolo(4,3-a)quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ), or the PKG inhibitor, KT-5823. HL-1 cardiomyocytes, loaded with TMRE, were treated for 80 min with the calcium ionophore, calcimycin, to induce calcium stress. This reduced the mean cell fluorescence to 63.3 +/- 3.8% of baseline values and vardenafil protected against this fall (78.6 +/- 3.6%, P<0.01). The vardenafil-induced protection of HL-1 cells was blocked by ODQ, KT-5823 or the PKG-inhibiting peptides DT-2 and DT-3, confirming a role for GC and PKG.
Conclusions and implications: These results further support the hypothesis that PDE-5 inhibitors are protective in ischemic hearts, in addition to their known clinical effects in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in men.