L-Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine can be cytoprotective or cytotoxic in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes: a double-edged sword phenomenon

Mol Cell Biochem. 2019 Oct;460(1-2):195-203. doi: 10.1007/s11010-019-03580-1. Epub 2019 Jul 6.


L-Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (GPC) is a widely used food supplement. GPC has been shown to exert beneficial effects in several organs; however, the cardiac effects of GPC have yet to be investigated. The aim of the present study was therefore to map out the effects of GPC on cardiac myocytes, with or without ischemia-reperfusion insult. Neonatal rat cardiac myocytes were treated with GPC at 1, 10, 80, and 100 µM concentrations for 15 min, 3 h, or 24 h, respectively. Cell viability by calcein assay and the degree of oxidative stress by DHE (superoxide level) and H2DCF (total ROS accumulation) staining were measured. In separate experiments, cardiomyocytes were pre-treated with the optimal concentration of GPC for 3 h and then cells were exposed to 4 h of simulated ischemia followed by 2 h of reperfusion (SI/R). Cell viability was measured at the end of the SI/R protocol. In normoxic conditions, the 15-min and the 3-h GPC treatment did not affect cell viability, total ROS, and superoxide levels. Under SI/R conditions, the 3-h GPC treatment protected the cardiac myocytes from SI/R-induced cell death and did not alter the level of oxidative stress. The 24-h GPC treatment in normoxic conditions resulted in significant cell death and increased oxidative stress at each concentration. Here we provide the first evidence for the cytoprotective effect of short-term GPC treatment. However, long-term administration of GPC may exert cytotoxicity in a wide concentration range in cardiac myocytes. These results may draw attention to a comprehensive cardiac safety protocol for the testing of GPC.

Keywords: L-Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Neonatal rat cardiac myocytes; Oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytoprotection / drug effects*
  • Glycerylphosphorylcholine / administration & dosage
  • Glycerylphosphorylcholine / pharmacology*
  • Glycerylphosphorylcholine / therapeutic use
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Glycerylphosphorylcholine