Objective: The aim was to examine whether ischaemic preconditioning delays the onset of cellular electrical uncoupling during ischaemia, and whether the effect of preconditioning is mediated by the activation of ATP sensitive K+ channels (IK-ATP).
Methods: Onset of uncoupling, action potential duration (APD80), and conduction velocity were measured in an isolated perfused rabbit papillary muscle. Preconditioning consisted of 10 min occlusion and 10 min reperfusion prior to 40 min sustained ischaemia. Five groups were studied: (1) control (sustained ischaemia only); (2) preconditioning; (3) preconditioning with 20 microM glibenclamide, a blocker of IK-ATP, added for 10 min during the reperfusion period; (4) sustained ischaemia after 15 min perfusion with 20 microM cromakalim (BRL 34915), an opener of IK-ATP; (5) sustained ischaemia after 10 min perfusion with 20 microM glibenclamide without preconditioning.
Results: Uncoupling started at 15.0(SEM 0.7) min of ischaemia in the control group and at 22.8(1.5) min after preconditioning (p < 0.001 v control group). Blocking IK-ATP during the preconditioning protocol with glibenclamide abolished the delay of uncoupling: onset was at 14.7(1.2) min. Activation of IK-ATP with cromakalim resulted in uncoupling at 23.3(1.9) min (p < 0.002 v control). Glibenclamide without preconditioning had no effect on uncoupling: onset was at 15.6(1.0) min. APD80 during ischaemia was significantly shorter in the preconditioning and cromakalim groups than in the control group from 5 min of ischaemia onward. In the preconditioning+glibenclamide group and the glibenclamide group APD80 was at no point significantly different from the control group. Conduction velocity during ischaemia decreased to about 70% of baseline after 10 min and was not different between the five groups.
Conclusions: (1) Preconditioning delays the onset of electrical uncoupling; (2) the protective effect of preconditioning may be caused by activation of the IK-ATP channel; (3) the protective effect is associated with reduction of action potential duration, but not with changes of conduction velocity.