Can human myocardium be remotely preconditioned? The results of a randomized controlled trial

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2019 Jun 1;55(6):1086-1094. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezy441.


Objectives: No experimental study has shown that the myocardium of a remotely preconditioned patient is more resistant to a standardized ischaemic/hypoxic insult.

Methods: This was a single-centre randomized (1:1), double-blinded, sham-controlled, parallel-group study. Patients referred for elective coronary bypass surgery were allocated to either remote ischaemic preconditioning (3 cycles of 5-min ischaemia/5-min reperfusion of the right arm using a blood pressure cuff inflated to 200 mmHg) or sham intervention. One hundred and thirty-four patients were recruited, of whom 10 dropped out, and 4 were excluded from the per-protocol analysis. The right atrial trabecula harvested on cannulation for cardiopulmonary bypass was subjected to 60 min of simulated ischaemia and 120 min of reoxygenation in an isolated organ experiment. Postoperative troponin T release and haemodynamics were assessed in an in vivo study.

Results: The atrial trabeculae obtained from remotely preconditioned patients recovered 41.9% (36.3-48.3) of the initial contraction force, whereas those from non-preconditioned patients recovered 45.9% (39.1-53.7) (P = 0.399). Overall, the content of cleaved poly (ADP ribose) polymerase in the right atrial muscle increased from 9.4% (6.0-13.5) to 19.1% (13.2-23.8) (P < 0.001) after 1 h of ischaemia and 2 h of reperfusion in vitro. The amount of activated Caspase 3 and the number of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling-positive cells also significantly increased. No difference was observed between the remotely preconditioned and sham-treated myocardium. In the in vivo trial, the area under the curve for postoperative concentration of troponin T over 72 h was 16.4 ng⋅h/ml (95% confidence interval 14.2-18.9) for the remote ischaemic preconditioning and 15.5 ng⋅h/ml (13.4-17.9) for the control group in the intention-to-treat analysis. This translated into an area under the curve ratio of 1.06 (0.86-1.30; P = 0.586).

Conclusions: Remote ischaemic preconditioning with 3 cycles of 5-min ischaemia/reperfusion of the upper limb before cardiac surgery does not make human myocardium more resistant to ischaemia/reperfusion injury.

Clinical trial registration number: NCT01994707.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Ischaemia/reperfusion injury; Myocardial protection; Remote ischaemic preconditioning.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / adverse effects*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / surgery
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Preconditioning, Myocardial / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / blood
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Troponin T / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Troponin T

Associated data