Effects of Inotropic and Arrhythmogenie Digoxin Doses and of Digoxin-Specific Antibody on Myocardial Monovalent Cation Transport in the Dog

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The effects of digoxin on monovalent cation active transport were determined in cardiac tissue obtained from dogs given inotropic, toxic, or lethal doses of digoxin. In hemodynamically monitored dogs, active uptake of the K+ analogue Rb+ was determined in vitro in a control myocardial biopsy, and then in serial biopsies from the same dog after the infusion of [3H]digoxin in doses sufficient to cause a sustained positive inotropic effect in the absence of toxicity, and finally after additional doses to induce overt toxicity. Nontoxic digoxin doses producing a mean increase of 20% in left ventricular (LV) dP/dt significantly reduced Rb+ active transport by 25% below control values. At the onset of digoxin-induced arrhythmias, maximal LV dP/dt was 53% above control whereas active Rb+ transport was reduced by 60% below baseline values (P < 0.001). Control dogs given vehicle alone showed no significant change in contractility or in monovalent cation active transport. In another group of dogs given a lethal dose of digoxin, Rb+ active transport was reduced 59% below control levels at the onset of overt toxicity and was further reduced 80% below control at the time of onset of a fatal rhythm disturbance. When dogs were given high affinity digoxin-specific IgG or Fab fragments at the onset of overt toxicity, toxicity was rapidly reversed, and monovalent cation active transport increased to 51% of control at the time of restoration of sinus rhythm. Twenty-four hours after antibody reversal of arrhythmias, monovalent cation transport values approximated normal control levels. These data provide quantitative estimates of the extent of inhibition of monovalent cation transport by digoxin at inotropic, toxic, and lethal endpoints. Similar degrees of transport inhibition were present at the time of onset of digoxin-induced arrhythmias and at the time of arrhythmia reversal by digoxin-specific antibodies. Circ Res 44: 23-31, 1979

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