Direct evidence for substantial iron and copper mobilization into the coronary flow immediately following prolonged, but not short, cardiac ischemia is presented. When small volumes of coronary flow fractions (CFFs) were serially collected upon reperfusion, after 25-60 min of ischemia, the copper and iron levels in the first CFF were 50-fold and 12- to 15-fold higher, respectively, than corresponding pre-ischemic values. The copper and iron levels after shorter periods (15-21 min) of ischemia were only about five-fold higher than the pre-ischemic values. This demonstrates that the resumption of coronary flow is accompanied by a burst of both metal ions. The levels of Cu/Fe in the CFFs correlated well with the loss of cardiac function following global ischemia of varying duration. After 18 min of ischemia, the residual cardiac function was less than 50%, and the damage was essentially reversible. After 25 min of ischemia, it exceeded 50% and was only partially reversible, while after 35 min, the damage exceeded 80%, and was mostly irreversible. The results are in accord with the hypothesis that copper and iron play causative roles in myocardial injury through mediation of hydroxyl radical production. Thus, the pattern of Cu/Fe mobilization from the tissue into the CFF can be used for the prediction of the severity of myocardial damage following ischemia, and could be developed into useful modalities for intervention in tissue injury.
Copyright 1997 Academic Press Limited.