Ischemic preconditioning protects against coronary endothelial dysfunction induced by ischemia and reperfusion

Circulation. 1994 Mar;89(3):1254-61. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.89.3.1254.


Background: Repetitive, brief periods of ischemia and reperfusion ("preconditioning") increase the resistance of myocardial tissue to subsequent prolonged ischemic episodes and limit infarct size. We investigated whether preconditioning also protects against coronary endothelial dysfunction induced by ischemia and reperfusion.

Methods and results: Experiments were performed in four groups of rats (n = 8 in each group): group 1 rats underwent sham surgery, group 2 rats were subjected to 20 minutes of left coronary artery occlusion without reperfusion, group 3 rats underwent 20 minutes of occlusion followed by 1 hour of reperfusion, and group 4 rats (preconditioning group) underwent the same protocol as group 3 rats, preceded by three cycles of 5 minutes of ischemia and 5 minutes of reperfusion. At the end of the experiments, coronary segments (internal diameter, 250 to 300 microns) were removed distal to the occlusion site and mounted in wire myographs for isometric tension recording. Relaxations induced by increasing concentrations of acetylcholine, the calcium ionophore A23187, or the nitric oxide (NO) donor SIN-1 were determined in arteries precontracted by serotonin. Basal NO release was estimated by measuring contractions to NG-nitro L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME). In addition, we determined the effect of preconditioning on infarct size in two additional groups that were subjected to the same protocols as those of groups 3 and 4. In those animals, area at risk (India ink injection) and infarct size (triphenyltetrazolium stain) were determined by computerized analysis of enlarged sections after video acquisition. Preconditioning markedly limited infarct size (percent of area at risk: controls, 57 +/- 2; preconditioning, 2.2 +/- 0.6; P < .01). Ischemia (without or with reperfusion) or preconditioning did not affect the coronary responses to L-NAME, serotonin, A23187, or SIN-1. Ischemia without reperfusion did not modify the relaxations to acetylcholine (maximal relaxation: sham, 58 +/- 4%; ischemia, 56 +/- 7%; P = NS). In contrast, ischemia followed by reperfusion markedly impaired the response to acetylcholine (26 +/- 6%; P < .01 versus sham). This impaired response was restored by preconditioning (maximal relaxation: 59 +/- 9%; P = NS versus sham; P < .01 versus ischemia/reperfusion).

Conclusions: In addition to protecting myocardial cells, preconditioning also protects coronary endothelial cells against ischemia/reperfusion injury.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Arginine / analogs & derivatives
  • Arginine / pharmacology
  • Calcimycin / pharmacology
  • Coronary Vessels / drug effects
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Molsidomine / analogs & derivatives
  • Molsidomine / pharmacology
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / prevention & control*
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester
  • Nitric Oxide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Serotonin
  • Calcimycin
  • linsidomine
  • Arginine
  • Molsidomine
  • Acetylcholine
  • NG-Nitroarginine Methyl Ester