Background: Heme arginate can induce heme oxygenase-1 to protect tissue against ischemia-reperfusion injury. Blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging measures changes in tissue oxygenation with a high spatial and temporal resolution. BOLD imaging was applied to test the effect of heme arginate on experimental ischemia reperfusion injury in the calf muscles.
Methods: A two period, controlled, observer blinded, crossover trial was performed in 12 healthy male subjects. Heme arginate (1 mg/kg body weight) or placebo were infused 24 h prior to a 20 min leg ischemia induced by a thigh cuff. 3 Tesla BOLD-imaging of the calf was performed and signal time courses from soleus, gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscle were available from 11 participants for technical reasons.
Results: Peak reactive hyperemia signal of the musculature was significantly increased and occurred earlier after heme arginate compared to placebo (106.2 ± 0.6% at 175 ± 16s vs. 104.5 ± 0.6% at 221 ± 19s; p = 0.025 for peak reperfusion and p = 0.012 for time to peak).
Conclusions: A single high dose of heme arginate improves reperfusion patterns during ischemia reperfusion injury in humans. BOLD sensitive, functional MRI is applicable for the assessment of experimental ischemia reperfusion injury in skeletal muscle.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01461512.